The competition to be the Bruins’ No. 2 goaltender behind Tuukka Rask officially came to an end Tuesday night, as Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy confirmed that it will be first-year pro Jeremy Swayman who will get the call as Rask’s backup when the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin this weekend.
“[Swayman] will be,” Cassidy said after Tuesday’s loss in Washington. “I think he’s earned that. Obviously a tough call with Jaro with his experience. [Swayman]’s just played more down the stretch. Some of that was out of circumstance; Tuukka got hurt, Jaro went into COVID [protocol], so there’s a a quarantine and then for goalie’s it’s a little tougher to get thrown back in there, so little time to get back up to speed.”
Summoned from the AHL in April with Rask on the shelf with a back injury and Halak out of action due to COVID protocols, the 22-year-old Swayman went on a straight-up wild start to begin his NHL career, with a 5-2-0 record and .946 save percentage in an April that saw him split duties with Daniel Vladar before Rask’s return.
Swayman refused to let go even upon Halak’s return, and finished his 2021 campaign with a 7-3-0 record and .945 save percentage, which ranked first among all NHL goaltenders with at least 10 appearances this season.
He even had a strong loss to end his season, as he turned aside 30-of-32 shots behind a Boston roster of mostly Providence skaters in a last-second loss to the Capitals’ NHL group on Tuesday night.
Halak, meanwhile, got into just two games upon his removal from the COVID list — a relief loss in Buffalo and an overtime loss in New Jersey — and surrendered five goals on 26 shots over that two-game sample. The 35-year-old Halak finished the 2021 season with a 9-6-4 record and .905 save percentage (his worst since an .899 with the Blues in 2013).
“I thought Swayman grabbed the ball and ran with it,” Cassidy noted. “So that’s the decision there, but that could change as we go along, obviously, as Jaro gets more reps, but right now I think Swayman’s done everything we’ve asked.”
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.