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Around The Rinks: As Boston Bruins face elimination, Jeremy Swayman is not the problem

by | May 13, 2024 | Cover Story, Hockey

After three straight losses to the Florida Panthers, the Boston Bruins face Stanley Cup playoff elimination Tuesday night on the road, but no one can pin the rap on Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman of Anchorage.

Swayman tied his career playoff high with 38 saves Sunday night, when Florida won 3-2 in Boston to seize a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7, second-round series.

Basically, the Panthers have poured an avalanche over the Bruins in three consecutive victories. In that span, they outshot the Bruins 107-50 for a ridiculous 68.2-percent share of shots on goal. The Panthers in those three games unleashed 221 shot attempts to Boston’s mere 112 – that’s a 66.4-percent shot share.

Swayman has been Boston’s only hope. His 8.97 goals-saved-above-average in the entire playoffs leads the NHL, according to naturalstattrick.com.

He’s 5-5, but with a sterling 2.28 goals-against average and sparkling .930 save percentage despite making nine consecutive starts, the most the 25-year-old has ever made in an NHL regular-season or playoff run.

Sunday’s game turned early in the third period, when the Bruins led 2-1 and the Panthers went on the power play. After Swayman made a save, Florida’s Sam Bennett cross-checked Bruins center Charlie Coyle onto Swayman, then punched home the tying goal as Swayman was impeded from scrambling to his right in an attempt to thwart Bennett’s shot. Boston challenged for interference, but the NHL denied the challenge. The Bruins were flummoxed by the decision.

“The fact is Coyle was pushed into me and I couldn’t play my position,’’ Swayman told reporters.

Panthers captain Sasha Barkov scored the game-winning goal four minutes later when he knifed through the Bruins and down the slot before roofing a wrister.

Note that the Bruins were outshot 13-2 in the third period, managed only one shot on goal after Bennett’s equalizer and zero shots on goal after Barkov’s goal with 12:29 left in the game.

Swayman’s three goals surrendered came in well below what analytics predicted – naturalstattrick had Florida’s expected goals at 4.68.

In any event, the Panthers are one win away from returning to the Eastern Conference Finals and the Bruins are one loss away from packing their gear for the season.

Through four games in the series, it seems like Boston’s best hope is Swayman going full Hasek.

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