Bruins’ Jeremy Swayman or Linus Ullmark in net for Game 1? ‘We’re confident in both’

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BEDFORD, Mass. — Jeremy Swayman has completed 25 percent of his dash toward the Conn Smythe Trophy.

The Boston Bruins goalie was his team’s best player in the Round 1 elimination of the Toronto Maple Leafs. In six of seven starts, Swayman posted a .950 save percentage, best among goalies who are still playing.

“He’s been our rock all series,” Charlie McAvoy said after the 2-1 overtime win in Game 7 at TD Garden. “He’s been awesome. We just haven’t gotten him run support. If we played better in front of him, maybe it doesn’t go seven. But he’s been awesome. He’s been unbelievable all seven games.”

None of this, however, guarantees Swayman gets a sixth straight start on Monday against the Florida Panthers.

As good as Swayman was against the Leafs, the 25-year-old is human. As such, he is subject to physical wear and tear as well as mental fatigue. 

Linus Ullmark, meanwhile, is at the ready.

It isn’t just that Ullmark is fresh, albeit perhaps with some rust on his skates (his last appearance was in Game 2 against the Leafs). He has a history against the Panthers this season. As spotty he was against Florida in last year’s playoffs, Ullmark sparkled over three regular-season starts in 2023-24: three wins, .947 save percentage against the Panthers.

On Sunday, Swayman reported to Warrior Ice Arena for his usual day-after treatment. He is a fighter. Coach Jim Montgomery classified him as No. 2 behind Brad Marchand on the team in terms of competitiveness. Swayman would never willingly cede the net in the playoffs, even to as good a friend and netminding partner as Ullmark.

So if Swayman proclaimed himself good to go on Sunday and the sports performance staff concurred, he is in line to stay in net for Game 1. But if he reported any degree of a physical or mental letdown, it was his duty to speak the truth. In that case, the Bruins could decide to give Ullmark the Game 1 nod.

“It’s been a strength of our team,” general manager Don Sweeney said of the rotation prior to the team’s afternoon departure from Hanscom Field. “Jeremy got momentum on his side in the series and ran with it. We’ve spoken about that. We had a plan in place. Performance and results were going to dictate sometimes how we were going to react accordingly. We’ll continue to do that. We’ll put both players in the best situation we possibly can to help our team win and move forward each and every game. Monitor where Jeremy is this morning coming off an amazing high. We’re confident in both goaltenders, and that’s a benefit to us.”

One factor that swings the decision in Swayman’s favor is his attitude. Swayman played with contagious enthusiasm. He didn’t just make his teammates more confident. He made them feel bigger.

“He gave the group a lot of belief,” said David Pastrnak, the Game 7 overtime hero. “I’m proud of him, the way he bounced back in every single game in the series and gave us a chance to win. It was the same with Linus when he played. Both our goalies gave us a chance to win every single game. That’s really exciting. It gives us a lot of confidence.”

(Photo of Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)

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