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  • Takeaways: Jeremy Swayman, Bruins, avoid road trip hangover

    James Garrison January 15, 2024

    A home afternoon contest following a four-game road trip that spanned three different time zones often lends itself to disappointment.

    The Boston Bruins bucked that trend on Monday, handling the New Jersey Devils to earn a 3-0 victory following their Western Conference swing. 

    In his third consecutive start, Jeremy Swayman pitched a 31-save shutout, his third perfect outing of the season. Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak both posted multi-point outings during Monday’s matinee.

    Despite dominating the opening 20 minutes, the Black and Gold could not solve Nico Daws on any of their first 16 shots on net.

    Daws’ effort didn’t hinder Boston’s work ethic.

    Charlie Coyle found the back of the net early in the second period, collecting his 15th of the season for the game’s first tally. 

    “It was important [to score early in the period],” head coach Jim Montgomery said. “It starts to creep into your mind, are we gonna get one. Daws was playing really well.”

    Boston and New Jersey traded surges in the middle frame. Swayman continued to hold the fort as the Devils pushed for the equalizer.

    The Bruins created separation in the third after Pastrnak snapped a mini two-game goal drought with his trademark power-play one-timer from the face-off circle.

    A diving Trent Frederic secured Boston’s 3-0 win on a tremendous effort for the empty-net tally.

    Here’s what we learned as the Bruins extend their point streak to six straight games.

    Bruins avoid the post-road trip malaise

    It’s commonplace for any NHL team’s first home game after a long road trip to be a stinker. Behind a straightforward process and a solid outing from Swayman, the Bruins got the job done. 

    “That’s not an easy game for us after being in three different time zones,” Montgomery said. “Today’s the ninth day of playing five games and we get seven out of 10 [points.]”

    The shorthanded Bruins saw Pavel Zacha return to the lineup from an illness. The former Devil still hasn’t fully recovered from his recent ailment by the time the puck dropped on Monday, but Montgomery praised Zacha’s effort and his ability to eat up valuable minutes as a second line center. 

    Additionally, the Bruins only allowed New Jersey one power play the entire afternoon – a far cry from their numerous stick infractions during their four-game road trip. 

    “We’ve talked about too many minors a lot,” Montgomery said. “We’ve shown them recently and I think it’s starting to have an impact on guys keeping their sticks and on the right side of pucks, using their legs to check.”

    Swayman follows up on arbitration comments following his shutout

    A lower-body injury to Linus Ullmark forced Swayman into a workhorse role over the last few games.

    The Bruins may not want to move on from their luxurious situation between the pipes, but nonetheless, Swayman’s recent performances in the dog days of January prove he can manage a heavier workload if needed.

    “With our packed schedule right now, practice is pretty rare,” Swayman said. “You’re getting a lot of reps on the ice with games. It’s important to keep maintaining that momentum and move forward. This is the fun part of the season.”

    In addition to stepping up as Boston’s stalwart and earning his first career All-Star nomination, Swayman also made headlines for his comments on his arbitration hearings over the summer. 

    After notching his third shutout of the season, Swayman expanded on his remarks following Boston’s 4-3 overtime victory in St. Louis when he heard “things a player should never hear.”

    “I’m grateful for what happened,” Swayman said in his follow-up comments. “I think I learned so much about the business side of things and again, it doesn’t matter what happens away from the rink, it’s all about what happens when you step through the doors every night.”

    Wotherspoon’s emergence provides ‘a good problem’ for Boston’s blue-line

    Of the many players to emerge this season for the Bruins, Parker Wotherspoon’s emergence is one of the more unexpected ones. 

    With Brandon Carlo and Derek Forbort injured, Wotherspoon, working mostly alongside Hampus Lindholm as of late, emerged as a reliable blueliner who can log physical and demanding minutes at even strength and the penalty kill.

    “[My comfort level]’s growing and growing,” Wotherspoon said. “Took a little bit to get comfortable with the system but the coach has been helping me out a lot and bringing me up to speed.”

    Before Monday’s contest, Montgomery listed both Carlo and Forbort as day-to-day. It’s likely that when both become healthy, there will only be one roster spot for Wotherspoon and Mason Lohrei as the seventh defenseman. 

    Wotherspoon, who would be subject to waivers if sent down, could be claimed by another team for his value as a depth defender. Lohrei, on the other hand, has continued to mature during his rookie season.

    Indeed, a ‘good problem’ awaits the Bruins. 

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