Wednesday was not a good night for Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman.
In net for his second straight start after winning the No. 1 goalie job over Linus Ullmark out of the gate, the 22-year-old Swayman surrendered five goals on 24 shots for the loss against Cam Atkinson and the Flyers on Philly ice. And in our first actual proof that Swayman is viewed as more than the surprise, feel-good story he was last season, the performance came with some postgame criticism from Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy typically reserved for a No. 1 goalie.
“He’s not gonna be perfect every night and clearly he wasn’t tonight,” Cassidy said. “Not his best [game]. We needed some saves there when we broke down. That’s it.
“Just didn’t give us [saves] when we needed them.”
This was not Cassidy’s only reference to the team’s goaltending in a postgame presser heavy on frustration with his team’s costly and ill-timed miscues.
“We force a play, it’s in our net. We pinch early, it’s in our net. Plays like that hurt us big time because we didn’t get the save coming back the other way,” Cassidy, who also expressed frustration with his second pairing, noted. “And that’s the difference. They took advantage of the opportunities that I think we presented to them.”
The messaging may seem harsh, but it’s also necessary. The Bruins entered the year with a clear message delivered to both goaltenders that nothing was going to be set in stone and that no one should feel comfortable. And for as much as we’ll talk about the team in front of Swayman letting him down — odd-man rushes and turnovers were the name of the game for the Bruins for segments of this game — the Bruins need a big save from their No. 1 at some point. No matter the age or experience, that’s a must for any true No. 1 goaltender in this league.
“Obviously accountable for what happened,” Swayman said after the loss. “I thought team played great, great comeback in the second period. I just want to do my job better, give them a better chance to win.”
And that’s really about as simple as it needs to be.
Our minds are absolutely poisoned to the point where we believe that a goaltending controversy must constantly exist in this Bruins Cinematic Universe, but this was an off night for the second-year pro, and everybody was right to acknowledge it. This doesn’t mean that Swayman is on the fast track to Lacherville, just like Ullmark beginning the year as Swayman’s backup didn’t mean that he was now officially Don Sweeney’s worst signing.
The Swayman ‘letdown’ game was also bound to happen at some point. And it’s almost amazing that it took this long, as this was Swayman’s 12th career start but just his first night with more than three goals allowed. (Want some context? Even Tim Thomas had nine different outings of at least four goals allowed during his 2011 Vezina year, and another five such performances in the playoffs on the way to the franchise’s only Stanley Cup in the 21st century.)
Sometimes it’s great, other times it’s five listenings to what has to be the worst goal song in hockey.
The latter being something Swayman seems relieved to experience early in his first full 82-game season.
“I’m glad it got out of the way early,” Swayman admitted. “A lot to learn from and move forward from here.”
A must for any true No. 1.
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.