The Bruins boasted the very best 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 distinct 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 underneath the intense lights of the playoffs.
The outcomes have been disastrous. Be it damage, fatigue, or regression from his Vezina-caliber play, a mortal Ullmark earned the nod in internet for Boston’s first six contests in opposition to the Panthers. By the point Boston reached Recreation 7, the burden 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 challenge with adhering to inflexible goalie rotation when the calendar flips to spring.
“For positive,” Montgomery stated Friday when posed stated query about conserving a platoon in place for the playoffs.
Thus far, Montgomery has had little cause to deviate from a 50/50 break up this season.
By way of the primary 15 video games of the common season, neither Swayman nor Ullmark have logged back-to-back begins. Even with Boston watching 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 could be to commerce off begins between netminders over an 82-game common season, it’s practically unparalleled throughout postseason play.
Sure, accidents and lackluster outcomes have routinely pressured coaches to dismantle their best-laid plans in internet throughout their pursuit of a Cup.
Bruce Cassidy and the Vegas Golden Knights hoisted hockey’s high prize in June with their fourth-string netminder in Adin Hill.
After opening their 2018 Cup run with Philipp Grubauer in internet, 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 internet … 51 years in the past, when Gerry Cheevers (eight begins) and Eddie Johnston (seven begins) each led the best way for Boston throughout their march to a second Cup in three years.
After all, it’s one factor to evangelise the perks of a gradual rotation in mid-November. It’s one other endeavor totally to hold that plan out in April and Might — particularly if one netminder posts a substandard efficiency in aim for one recreation.
However with the ache of final yr’s stunning exit in opposition to Florida nonetheless lingering, Montgomery has extra concrete conviction to attract from when issues inevitably go awry later this season.
“I believe it’s a consolation zone,” Montgomery stated. “I believe so long as our strains of communication [are open], like when Goalie Bob and I met with the goalies initially of this yr. They’re a luxurious that permits us to be an elite crew. That’s why we, for my part, had such an amazing file final yr. It’s certainly why we’re having an amazing 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 crew will be actually good, and it’s bearing out that means. And the truth that they help one another so properly, actually it’s the very best 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 stated. “That’s the most important factor — is simply attending to the playoffs proper now.”
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