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HOCKEY

Around The Rinks: Jeremy Swayman has done his part and more, yet Boston Bruins on brink of another playoff meltdown

by | May 3, 2024 | Cover Story, Hockey

Should the Boston Bruins blow a 3-1 first-round playoff series lead for the second straight year – Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs is booked for Saturday night – no blame will likely fall on Anchorage’s Jeremy Swayman.

The 25-year-old goaltender furnished the Bruins ample excellence in both Thursday’s 2-1 loss in Boston in Game 6 and Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime loss in Toronto in Game 5 of the best-of-7. Swayman stopped 24 shots in Game 6 and 31 shots in Game 5. On both occasions, the Bruins’ offense slogged through remarkably stagnant first periods – two shots on goal in Game 5, one shot on goal in Game 6. Woof.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Swayman has surrendered two goals or fewer in all five of his starts this series. He’s 3-2, with a 1.60 goals-against average and .947 save percentage. Those last two stats scream second round – you know, had the Bruins mustered even a half-decent offensive effort.

Note also: Swayman has made a combined eight regular-season and playoff starts against Toronto this season and has not permitted more than two goals in any of those games.

Boston last season set an NHL record for most points in a season, led the Florida Panthers 3-1 in a first-round, Stanley Cup series, and promptly cratered.

Saturday’s series finale pits two franchises with poor historical vibes. A Boston loss would be a second successive meltdown after leading a series 3-1. Toronto’s history is littered with Game 7 horrors.

Of course, winner gets to wipe the slate.

One thing seems certain – Swayman in the summer will cash in for the second straight year.

He was awarded a 1-year, $3.475 million deal by an arbitrator last summer, when his reps and the Bruins could not agree to a new deal following the expiration of his 3-year, $3.15 million entry-level contract. His excellent regular season – a career-high 25 wins, plus 2.53 goals-against average (8th in the NHL) and .916 save percentage (5th) – and playoffs means he’s due another substantial raise. Swayman, a restricted free agent, again will be eligible for arbitration if he can’t reach a deal with the Bruins, who drafted him in the fourth round in 2017.

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