Boston Bruins’ Linus Ullmark Has Been Crucial to Team’s Success
It’s fair to say that the Boston Bruins have arguably the best goaltending tandem in the entire NHL. If it isn’t the very best, it’s certainly in the discussion with Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman both possessing starter-quality abilities. Two of the most important parts of having such a strong duo in the crease is the fact that both can keep the other fresh and if one happens to be struggling, the other can carry the load in the interim.
With Swayman slowly finding his way this season, Ullmark carried the brunt of the load and helped the Bruins to one of the NHL’s best records to start the season. Unfortunately, Swayman would suffer an injury in a relief effort on Nov. 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins right after he seemingly found his footing this season, but the Bruins’ depth has prepared them for exactly this type of scenario.
The Bruins have players capable of backing up either Ullmark or Swayman at the NHL level if an injury occurs, as it has, but more importantly, they have a starting goalie capable of taking the reigns until the other is healthy again. While an injury to Swayman isn’t ideal, it does give the Bruins more reason to continue starting Ullmark who has been excellent thus far in the 2022-23 season.
In nine starts, Ullmark has gone 8-1-0 with a stellar .929 save percentage, 2.16 goals-against average, and goals saved above average of 7.0, which is good for sixth in the NHL this season. Ullmark only just suffered his first loss of the season on Nov. 5 in a 2-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a game that was definitely not his fault. In general, Ullmark has been a beacon of consistency for the Bruins this season and the team’s success has been largely dependent on his ability to continually show up save after save, game after game.
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This isn’t meant to discredit anybody else on the Bruins; the team’s forwards have been generating offense and creating opportunities and converting goals, the defense has been stifling and mobile and Swayman also kicked it into gear just prior to his injury. Also worth noting is new head coach Jim Montgomery clearly getting the most out of his players and seemingly has the back of every single player on the roster in some way, shape, or form. Still, Ullmark has been consistent as consistent gets and it’s been a noticeable storyline just 12 games into the year.
The Bruins have scored the most goals (51) in the NHL this season are in the top five in goals-against (30) through 12 games. That type of production comes from a full team effort but also cannot be done without a strong backbone in between the pipes. Ullmark has been exactly that and more for the Bruins and will need to continue to do so with Swayman being considered week-to-week with his lower-body injury.
Bruins Should Still Manage Goalie Starts When Swayman Returns
When Swayman comes back, the Bruins would be wise to ease him back into action while letting Ullmark continue to handle duties, given he is still playing at such a high level. With that said, it would be advisable for the Bruins to continue to split starts between the two to keep both goaltenders fresh for when the postseason rolls around. While one will almost certainly push for the starting role throughout the playoffs, as was the case last season, it’s still smart to keep both fresh, healthy and ready to go. This will be increasingly true with Ullmark likely to start the bulk of the games in Swayman’s absence.
Montgomery has handled his coaching responsibilities well through the first nearly 15 percent of the season and there’s no reason to think he’ll suddenly botch the goaltending duties when Swayman is healthy. Because of this, Bruins’ fans should feel confident in the way things have gone and be excited about how things will be, especially when Swayman, Charlie McAvoy and Derek Forbort all return to action.
The best might only be yet to come for the Bruins who are just two points out of the NHL lead with one game in hand on the league-leading Vegas Golden Knights. Old friend Bruce Cassidy is operating at a high level in the Western Conference with the Golden Knights and the Bruins are clearly playing at a high level in the Eastern Conference. It’s a fun storyline to monitor throughout the season, especially with Cassidy still being such a popular figure among Bruins’ fans – and rightfully so.
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for seven years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.