Nick Goss

Jeremy Swayman rediscovering his elite form after brief rough patch

Jeremy Swayman looks like the Vezina Trophy favorite again.

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Jeremy Swayman hasn't dealt with many rough patches in his NHL career, which is a testament to the consistency that he's given the Boston Bruins in net. He did go through a small stretch of poor performances in November, though.

The 25-year-old goalie made five appearances (four starts) from Nov. 11 through Nov. 27, and the Bruins went 1-2-2 in those games (1-1-2 in his starts). Swayman posted a lackluster .888 save percentage and 3.60 GAA during that span. In fairness, the Bruins' defensive game was poor in this stretch of games. Boston was allowing way too many shots and quality scoring chances, thus making its goalies' jobs much tougher.

It's not uncommon for young goalies to let a difficult stretch snowball and get worse. But to Swayman's credit, he has righted the ship in a major way over his last four starts.

Swayman has a .958 save percentage with a 1.26 GAA in those games. His expected goals against was 12.51 in that span, and yet he allowed just five. The Bruins picked up six of eight points in that stretch, including four of a possible six points from three games against quality Metropolitan Division opponents (Rangers, Devils, Islanders).

Swayman made 34 saves in a fantastic outing versus the Devils last Wednesday. During the second intermission on the TNT broadcast, legendary goalie Henrik Lundqvist did a great job breaking down Swayman's skill/movement in the crease.

"There are a couple things I really like about his game. He's really compact and very efficient in the way he moves," Lundqvist said. "He's got a big upper body, so he keeps his glove real tight to his upper body and every time he moves he keeps his back straight. You saw on that last save when he went from side to side, a lot of guys fall forward, but he has a lot of strength holding up his chest, which allows him to make the save with his chest instead of reaching with his glove.

"The other thing I really like about him is his quick movement. A lot of times when you go from A to B as a goalie, you see some guys kinda move half speed, but if you go quick every movement, it allows you to have more time to analyze every situation. I think going from post-to-post he's quick all the time and very powerful, small movements, and that allows him to have rebound control because he gets there early, gets set and can read the shot. Even if there's a rebound, he's right there because he's always in control. I'm very impressed with his game."

As expected, the Bruins have used a tandem in net with Swayman and Ullmark getting pretty close to equal playing time. It wasn't until the 16th game of the season that one goalie (Swayman) got back-to-back starts.

Swayman has been better than Ullmark this season, and if the playoffs started tomorrow, he would deserve to start Game 1. The University of Maine product also might be the favorite for the Vezina Trophy right now, although he's getting strong competition from Vegas Golden Knights goalie Adin Hill and Vancouver Canucks netminder Thatcher Demko, among others.

The Bruins wouldn't be sitting atop of the Eastern Conference standings right now without their goaltending, particularly Swayman. The B's have given up too many shot attempts and scoring chances for long stretches this season, and they also rank 18th in goals scored after finishing second a season ago. These issues have largely been nullified by a league-leading .922 save percentage from the netminders.

The ability to start a Vezina Trophy-caliber goalie every game is a luxury few other teams, if any, enjoy.

There will probably be at least one more rough patch for Swayman this season. They are inevitable, even for the best of goalies. And after seeing the way Swayman bounced back from a brief stretch of poor results last month, there shouldn't be any doubt that he'll rebound strong the next time, too. His mental toughness has been one of the most encouraging aspects of his performance this season.

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