Swayman shows poise in NHL debut

American Hockey League

By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Jeremy Swayman made his NHL debut for the Boston Bruins Tuesday night in Philadelphia, and did not look like a 22-year-old making his NHL debut. The 22-year-old from Anchorage, Alaska looked like a veteran as he turned away shot after shot by the Flyers, and in the end he skated off the ice with a 4-2 victory under his belt.

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“What an incredible experience. To get a win here in Philly means everything,” he said with a wide smile after the game. “My mentality throughout the game was don’t get too high, don’t get too low. Just one shot at a time.”

That mentality served him well, as Swayman turned away 40 shots during his impressive debut. He blanked the Flyers in the first period, turning away all 13 shots that he saw in the frame. He had the poise of a veteran late in the first period when he shut down Scott Laughton’s shorthanded breakaway attempt, casually kicking the scoring bid away.

It set up an odd-man rush for Boston that ended with Patrice Bergeron scoring one of his three goals on the evening, giving Boston a 2-0 advantage at the time.

The second period didn’t go as well for the rookie, as the Bruins’ defensive intensity took a big dip and the Flyers peppered him with 25 shots. Two of those found the back of the net to even the game at 2-2.

But the Boston defense buckled down after a stern talking-to from head coach Bruce Cassidy, and Philadelphia put just four shots on net in the final frame. But the Bruins wouldn’t have had a chance to win it in the third if it wasn’t for Swayman’s poise as the Flyers upped their attack in the middle period.

“He’s a pretty relaxed, competitive guy. I’ve been told he’s used to those nights at Maine, but that’s atypical for our team,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said of the former Maine Black Bear. “I thought we did a nice job in the third in front of him. He deserved much better support than we gave him. He eventually got it and I’m happy for him. Got his first NHL win and he deserved it. Good for Sway.”

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The 42 shots that Swayman saw Tuesday night were the most for a B’s rookie in over 55 years. Only Bernie Parent saw more shots in his pro debut, when he made 42 saves off 44 shots in a 2-2 tie with the Blackhawks on Nov. 3, 1965.

All that work just led to an even bigger smile for Swayman, who was sporting a grin any time the camera showed him Tuesday evening.

“That explains it all. It’s a game and a game that I love,” he said. “I enjoyed every second of it and that’s what the vets told me going into it — enjoy it. It’s once in a lifetime. I love this game and playing with the best players in the world. It was fun.”

His teammates were very apologetic for that second period flurry that he saw, but Swayman says that’s just part of the job.

“Every one of those guys came up to me after to congratulate me,” said Swayman. “That just goes to show what kind of organization we have. At the end of the day, my job is to stop pucks. That’s what I wanted to do in order to give the team a chance to win.

“I know if I do my job, they’re going do theirs and that’s exactly what happened tonight,” he added. “It was a great team win. I’m super happy about it.”

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Swayman did not look like a kid with just nine AHL games under his belt. And with all the uncertainty surrounding Tuukka Rask’s back injury and Jaroslav Halak landing on the COVID list, Swayman and Boston’s other young netminder, Dan Vladar, could continue to get chances to shine on the NHL level.

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