A true (and perhaps first ever) manic pixie dream goalie, the Bruins’ Jeremy Swayman wants you to know that he’s not like other goalies. He’s not weird.
And thus, it’s not weird that the 22-year-old soaked in every single moment of his NHL debut Tuesday night in Philadelphia. Even down to the pregame warmup, which saw Swayman stay on the Wells Fargo Center ice longer than most starters. Again, it’s not weird. That’s just part of what he does.
“That’s just my routine,” Swayman said. “I’m not too suspicious. I take pride in not being the weird goalie, but my teammates might say otherwise. But it’s just my routine. I don’t need to be the last guy, but I know I take most of the warmup to really dial and make sure that my mind’s in the right place before a game.”
With that in mind following a 40-of-42 performance on the way to his first NHL win, allow the Bruins to make a totally-not-weird request to extend pregame warmup for another five minutes during all Swayman starts.
Because holy smokes did that mind look right — especially when the Bruins didn’t — in Swayman’s debut.
Thrown into the NHL fire after just nine starts in Providence (something that no B’s netminder has gone through since Tuukka Rask was summoned to the NHL in Nov. 2007 at just 20 years old), Swayman’s night began with a relatively easy start, with the Flyers’ attack starting with unscreened shots from low-danger areas. The action on Swayman’s cage intensified with a Joel Farabee deflection look with the Flyers up a man, but Swayman escaped unscathed.
…And then came the inferno known as the second period.
The Bruins’ troubles started with a David Krejci pass to Jakub Zboril’s skates. Zboril then stepped and tripped on the puck, and gave the Flyers’ Travis Konecny and Jakub Voracek a two-on-one with Steve Kampfer (a late addition to the lineup) as Swayman’s last line of defense. Konecny tucked the puck under Kampfer’s leg, and Voracek put it through a splitting Sway.
The Flyers then jumped on the Bruins for another goal, this one just 2:30 after the Voracek putaway, with a Shayne Gostisbehere shot over a down-and-out Swayman. The Bruins once again dug their own hole on the way to that goal, too, with Trent Frederic skating without a stick and Zboril failing to do much of anything to limit Gostisbehere’s shot.
It was enough to make you think, ‘Oh no, they’re going to mess this one up for the kid.””
But instead, the Alaskan-born netminder put those mistakes behind him and stepped up for an absurd 23-of-25 second-period showing. In fact, those held as the only blemishes against Swayman for the entire evening.
“What I’ve been told is he was used to some of those nights at Maine,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said of the high-volume period for his 6-foot-2 (true) rookie goalie. “But that’s atypical of our team. He deserved much better support than we gave him. And he eventually got it in third. I’m happy for him. Got his first NHL win. Certainly earned it.”
To Cassidy’s point, getting absolutely blasted with shots is nothing new to Swayman. He faced an NCAA-high 1,170 shots and had 14 games of at least 35 saves behind Maine’s defense in 2019-20 on his way to a Hobey Baker finalist nomination.
“That’s a great experience being up in Maine and those games where I was getting peppered, there was still so much team effort involved and guys were doing their jobs, keeping shots wide and clearing rebounds,” said Swayman. “It goes to show that this game is a team game and not an individual effort whatsoever.”
Swayman lived that in the third period, too, with the Bruins limiting the Flyers to just four shots — and in what was a must-win period (and game) for a reeling Philly squad — to support the goalie that carried ’em through the second-period mud.
“Well-deserved [win] when he was battling all night to give us a true chance to win, especially in that second period,” said Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron. “And that poise was evident from the get-go from the way that he prepared in the locker room. He looked ready, he looked calm, and he was the same way on the ice.”
And Swayman’s poise included the cameras catching him with a huge smile on his face between almost every save.
“It’s a game and it’s a game that I love, and I enjoyed every second of it,” a still-smiling Swayman offered. “That’s what a lot of the vets told me, especially [Tuukka Rask], he said ‘just enjoy it, it’s once in a lifetime. So that’s exactly what I did.
“I absolutely love this game. And to do it on the biggest stage with the best players in the world, how could you not have fun doing that? It was fun.”
And not weird at all.