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Around The Rinks: Season’s end for Jeremy Swayman came with Bruins fans serenading his name

by | May 18, 2024 | Cover Story, Hockey

Anchorage’s Jeremy Swayman. Photo courtesy Boston Bruins

When it was over Friday night, when disappointment pierced Jeremy Swayman deeper than the game-winning goal that leaked between his blocker and the left post, Boston Bruins fans serenaded the 25-year-old goaltender from Anchorage.

“Sway-man, Sway-man,’’ chanted the faithful at TD Garden.

“Tears,’’ Swayman told media in the locker room. “Tears. I couldn’t be more grateful to have a city, to have a home base, that’s as supportive as Boston. They mean so much more than just fans to me. It’s truly a home for me now. To hear that was above and beyond.

“I’m just so grateful for all the love and support. We wouldn’t be here without them. That was an incredible moment to be a part of.’’

That the Bruins were even playing in Game 6 of the second-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Florida Panthers was largely Swayman’s doing. He owned Toronto in starting five of six first-round games to eliminate the Maple Leafs. Florida clearly was superior to Boston, yet Swayman propelled the Bruins to another Game 6, this one an elimination 2-1 loss that came when Panthers defenseman Gustav Forsling squeezed a rebound shot between Swayman’s blocker and the left post with just 93 seconds left. Swayman stopped 26 of 28 shots, giving him a save percentage of .923 or higher in 10 of his 12 playoff starts.

Swayman’s .933 save percentage across 12 postseason games leads all qualifying NHL masked men. Ditto for his 12.9 goals-saved-above expected, according to MoneyPuck. His 2.15 goals-against average was elite. He permitted two goals or fewer in nine of his 12 starts.

Still, he took responsibility for allowing Forsling’s dagger, which came after Swayman rebuffed Florida’s initial bid, only to have Forsling whistle a shot through the legs of defenseman Parker Wotherspoon.

“Didn’t see it,’’ Swayman said of Forsling’s shot. “Wish I would have put the rebound in a better spot. I didn’t see the release of the second shot. There was a hole there, obviously. It’s unacceptable.’’

Forsling’s goal wasn’t a groaner, nothing like the two howlers Carolina’s Frederik Andersen surrendered in the Hurricanes’ elimination by the New York Rangers on Thursday night. But Swayman holds himself to a high standard. And the series loss to Florida stemmed from Boston’s lack of a consistently threatening offense and a moribund power play.

Swayman is on an expiring one-year, $3.475 contract signed after he and the Bruins went to arbitration last summer. The Bruins could have opted to sign the restricted free agent to a two-year deal. Failing to do so will cost them plenty. Swayman’s next deal will merit him a significant raise.

“The pending restricted free agent is due to double his deal,’’ wrote Fluto Shinzawa, the Bruins beat writer for The Athletic.

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