A goalie rotation within the playoffs? Bruins’ Jim Montgomery has no qualms over it


“They’re a luxurious that enables us to be an elite workforce.”

Boston Bruins goaltenders Jeremy Swayman, left, and Linus Ullmark, right, celebrate after they defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in a shootout during an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, in Boston.
Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman have break up the web to this point this season. (AP Picture/Steven Senne)

The Bruins boasted the most effective 1-2 punch between the pipes in Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman throughout their record-setting 2022-23 common season.

The 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs have been a special story.

After choosing a virtually even allocation of reps for each netminders over the ultimate months of the common season, Montgomery and goalie coach Bob Essensa deviated from the script below the intense lights of the playoffs.

The outcomes have been disastrous. Be it harm, fatigue, or regression from his Vezina-caliber play, a mortal Ullmark earned the nod in web for Boston’s first six contests towards the Panthers. By the point Boston reached Recreation 7, the load of a crushing first-round exit fell on the shoulders of Swayman — who went over two weeks between begins. 

The 2023-24 Bruins have a methods to go earlier than they brace themselves for one more postseason gauntlet. But when Boston’s sterling 12-1-2 begin results in one other playoff push, Montgomery has no difficulty with adhering to inflexible goalie rotation when the calendar flips to spring.

“For positive,” Montgomery mentioned Friday when posed mentioned query about preserving a platoon in place for the playoffs.

Up to now, Montgomery has had little motive to deviate from a 50/50 break up this season. 

Via the primary 15 video games of the common season, neither Swayman nor Ullmark have logged back-to-back begins. Even with Boston gazing a stretch of six video games in 10 days, Montgomery doesn’t count on that even distribution of begins to be altered for the foreseeable future.

“If it ain’t broke” has been the mantra for Boston’s bench boss this season, particularly with each Swayman (6-0-1, .944 save share) and Ullmark (6-1-1, .928 save share) buying and selling stellar begins. 

As unconventional because it may be to commerce off begins between netminders over an 82-game common season, it’s almost extraordinary throughout postseason play. 

Sure, accidents and lackluster outcomes have routinely compelled coaches to dismantle their best-laid plans in web throughout their pursuit of a Cup.

Bruce Cassidy and the Vegas Golden Knights hoisted hockey’s prime prize in June with their fourth-string netminder in Adin Hill.

After opening their 2018 Cup run with Philipp Grubauer in web, the Capitals swapped him out for Braden Holtby after two straight losses to Columbus within the first spherical. Holtby completed with a .922 save share over 23 playoff video games en path to a title.

However to maintain swapping out starters when each goalies are wholesome?

The Bruins did deploy a profitable postseason platoon in web … 51 years in the past, when Gerry Cheevers (eight begins) and Eddie Johnston (seven begins) each led the way in which for Boston throughout their march to a second Cup in three years. 

In fact, it’s one factor to evangelise the perks of a gradual rotation in mid-November. It’s one other endeavor fully to hold that plan out in April and Could — particularly if one netminder posts a substandard efficiency in purpose for one recreation. 

However with the ache of final yr’s stunning exit towards Florida nonetheless lingering, Montgomery has extra concrete conviction to attract from when issues inevitably go awry later this season.

“I feel it’s a consolation zone,” Montgomery mentioned. “I feel so long as our traces of communication [are open], like when Goalie Bob and I met with the goalies initially of this yr. They’re a luxurious that enables us to be an elite workforce. That’s why we, in my view, had such an awesome file final yr. It’s certainly why we’re having an awesome common season this yr.

“And we simply inform them upfront that we’re going to be alternating. You guys are each integral components of why our workforce will be actually good, and it’s bearing out that manner. And the truth that they help one another so nicely, actually it’s the most effective outward instance of why our tradition is so good.”

As anticipated, Swayman isn’t fretting over any postseason reps — not with 67 regular-season contests nonetheless left on Boston’s docket.

“We will’t take into consideration playoffs till we get there,” Swayman mentioned. “That’s the largest factor — is simply attending to the playoffs proper now.”