Bean: What's your confidence in Jeremy Swayman?


If Tuukka Rask isn’t healthy enough to play Wednesday night, Bruce Cassidy’s decision should be easy. It’s that middle ground that makes it tough, but there’s more than one thing to consider here. 

As we do our “what’s your confidence in Tuukka Rask?” talk (tune into any and every show on NBC Sports Boston, please!), we’re skipping an equally important question: What’s your confidence in Jeremy Swayman?

Bean: Bruins don't have much time to figure this all out

Swayman faced three shots in relief of Rask in Game 5 and allowed one goal, which was the game-winner for the Islanders. The “allowed this many goals on this many shots!” thing that Rask detractors do is dumb -- the number of shots doesn’t determine the quality of them -- but the point stands that neither Rask nor Swayman were impressive. 

It would be a different story if Swayman was a wall Monday. Whether from rust, inexperience or whatever else, he wasn’t. 

There's nothing wrong with changing your goalie in the playoffs, especially if your starter is laboring. Rask's been great this postseason, though, and if the Bruins weren't a catastrophe in their own zone and on the penalty kill Monday night, we'd be none the wiser on Rask's health. Plus, Rask's all-time stats in road win-or-go-home games are dynamite. 

It would be silly to rule out Swayman playing great in the postseason -- we’ve seen too many goalies do it over the years -- but expecting him to be great is just as baseless as expecting Rask to falter. 

Both situations are unknowns for the Bruins. A better performance defensively and on the penalty kill would yield a steady performance from Rask if he's healthy. Swayman could be at the beginning of a historic run or he could be a puddle behind a team that’s falling apart in front of him.

The good (and bad news) is that this series shouldn’t come down to goaltending and hasn’t so far, even though Rask’s health is rightfully a major story. The Bruins should be able to win a series against the Islanders with either of their goalies because the rest of their roster is that much superior.

The problem is that the roster is both banged up and ineffective. The team dearly, dearly misses Brandon Carlo, Kevan Miller and -- yikes -- even Zdeno Chara. Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner, who have been good players in the past, are liabilities. Jake DeBrusk has been scratched. Curtis Lazar, the only effective fourth-liner Boston has right now, is out for Game 6. 

Goaltending wasn’t the reason the Bruins lost Game 5, but the rest of the operation is such a mess that now you can get into “need a guy to steal one” territory. Teams that put themselves in that position don’t usually last long. 

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