The Boston Bruins are in a position they likely never thought they’d be in. The Presidents’ Trophy Winners who broke an NHL record for the most wins in a single season are on the verge of being eliminated from the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs by a Florida Panthers team that barely got in. The Panthers have stretched this series to Game 7 and while the Bruins are still heavy favorites, there’s clearly some lingering doubt in the air and major questions in goal where the Bruins might look to make a change.
As per Flto Shinzawa of The Athletic, Jeremy Swayman is expected to get the start. That’s huge news considering this is an elimination game and the Bruins would be removing the favorite for this season’s Vezina Trophy for a netminder who hasn’t yet played a single minute in the series.
While Swayman is certainly more than capable, the Bruins appear rattled and the decision to swap goaltenders will only give the Panthers more life. Boston has blown a 3-to-1 lead in the series and lineup adjustments tend to send a message that they’re not sure if the current roster can get it done. A team that few others could beat all season long now looks incredibly beatable.
In fairness, head coach Jim Montgomery hasn’t confirmed the goaltending change and noted on Saturday that if he were to make a swap, he has no regrets about his personnel decisions. He likened putting Swayman in to going with Roger Clemens in Game 7, or Tom Brady with 2 minutes left in the playoffs.
Is This Change Absolutely Necessary?
Ullmark looks dead tired after six games. Perhaps Montgomery feels he’s got no choice but to make the switch. Ullmark said he felt fine after a seven-goal outburst by the Panthers in Game 6, but letting six goals past him when he’s not done so all season tells a different story. Ullmark’s save percentage is now .896. That alarming number, while not extremely awful for some other netminders, seems to be enough to warrant a change in thinking.
If it works, it will be intriguing to see how this affects things for the Bruins moving forward. They would face the Toronto Maple Leafs next, and as everyone knows, the Leafs aren’t starving for offense.
Next: Have the Maple Leafs Already Seen Enough to Extend Kyle Dubas?
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