PHILADELPHIA - Goaltender Jeremy Swayman will make his NHL debut on Tuesday night when the Bruins visit the Philadelphia Flyers for the back end of a home-and-home. The 22-year-old dressed for his first game on Monday night at TD Garden, donning the No. 1.
Swayman was selected by the Bruins in the fourth round (111th overall) of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft and was a Hobey Baker finalist last season following a spectacular junior season with the University of Maine.
The Anchorage, Alaska, native turned pro last spring and has been outstanding in his first year with the Providence Bruins, posting an 8-1-0 record with a 1.89 goals against average and .933 save percentage.
With Tuukka Rask (upper body) and Jaroslav Halak (COVID protocols) unavailable and Daniel Vladar taking the opener of the back-to-back set with the Flyers, the Bruins are turning to the 6-foot-2, 187-pound Swayman for what could be the first of multiple starts this week.
"Goalie [coach] Bob [Essensa] will talk to him," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "He'll get his pointers from the shooter's perspective in Philly. He was here [Monday] night, obviously probably helps him to see a little bit of their style of play. You're going to get your first game sooner or later, so here we are in the middle of a busy week.
"And he knows he might go right back in there if Tuukka and Jaro aren't ready. I don't think he's thinking too far ahead about that, I think he's thinking about making his first save and the next save after that. I think every kid's been dreaming about this opportunity, he's getting his.
"He played well in Providence, had a condensed schedule there as well. He's gotten some good reps, he's got some game situations. Been up here for practice. Hopefully he's up to the task."
Video: Cassidy gives Jeremy Swayman debut start against PHI
Cassidy hopes that the Bruins rally around their rookie netminder as they did with Vladar, who was outstanding in his first career start on March 16 in Pittsburgh when he made 34 saves to lead Boston to a 2-1 victory.
"He's had a really good resume in college obviously and has done a really good job in Providence," Cassidy said of Swayman. "I think we're the type of team that plays with good layers in front of our goaltender, so we're not typically asking our goalie to go out and win us games, it's not a run and done for us. Do your job.
"Hopefully if there are some good chances that we clear the second one, that's how we're structured defensively. Understand that it is his first start so hopefully the guys around him are talking to him and are a little more dialed in with puck play details, talking, all those little things that a goalie's not used to with players."
Halak, meanwhile, remains in COVID protocols and his status will be assessed on a day-to-day basis.
"Some guys have come off, they've had false positives and then cleared with the appropriate amounts of negative tests," said Cassidy. "Other guys have not, they've had to stay like [Sean] Kuraly and [Jake] DeBrusk. That'll be a day-to-day thing, we'll see with Jaro."
Kevan Miller will return to the lineup for his first game since Feb. 18. The veteran blue liner was initially expected to miss a game or two to rest his surgically repaired knee but did not respond to treatment as well as he or the club would have liked. Miller joined the team for morning skate on Monday and will suit up against the Flyers on Tuesday night, subbing in for Steven Kampfer alongside Jakub Zboril on Boston's second pair.
"Kevan's been around a while, he knows the ins and outs of the game in the National Hockey League. That's how it played out," said Cassidy. "We were told it would be this week, wouldn't start him in back-to-backs because their thinking is, 'Let's not tax it too much right away, let's get him through some games and see where it leads.'
"At the start of the year we thought we were on a really good path with it and then it acted up. Probably took a little while longer than anyone originally thought to get back to where we needed to be, which is good to go tonight.
"That'll be the thinking going forward, to manage it, but that'll be between Kevan and the medical staff. If he's healthy, he's in. If he's not, then we go with the next guy."
Chris Wagner will also be back in after sitting out the last five games and eight of the last 10 as a healthy scratch. The Walpole native will take back his familiar fourth-line right wing role alongside Sean Kuraly and Trent Frederic, as Zach Senyshyn sits out as a healthy scratch.
"I think his pace was off a little, I think he was getting tracked down in the neutral zone," Cassidy said of why Wagner has been out of the lineup. "He wasn't getting there on time to be physical, so we talked about that. Some of that is just being on your toes a little bit more, some of it is working on shortening your shifts - going full blast for a shorter period of time.
"He is a guy that can give us some energy…he's always been good on the penalty kill. He'll stay in that role. And then some puck plays that he's capable of…hopefully Chris grabs the opportunity gives us what we know he can and is a good player for us."
By The Numbers
- Patrice Bergeron is one point shy of 900 for his career. He would be the fourth player in Bruins history to reach that mark, joining Ray Bourque, Johnny Bucyk, and Phil Esposito.
- The Bruins visit the Flyers tonight in the seventh of eight games between these teams this season and the third of four at Wells Fargo Center.
- Boston is concluding its fourth of eight sets of back-to-back games this season. The B's are currently 2-1-1 in the first game of those sets and 1- 2-0 in the second games.
Tuesday's Projected Lineup
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Craig Smith
Nick Ritchie - David Krejci - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - Charlie Coyle - Karson Kuhlman
Trent Frederic - Sean Kuraly - Chris Wagner
Matt Grzelcyk - Charlie McAvoy
Jakub Zboril - Kevan Miller
Jeremy Lauzon - Connor Clifton