Rookie netminder Jeremy Swayman, who will start the opener against Dallas, continues to show the Bruins what he’s made of.
During Friday’s practice, the amiable Alaskan took a shot off the mask, and reacted in a manner that had coach Bruce Cassidy praising his composure.
“Right between the eyes,” Cassidy said, clicking his tongue for effect. “Puck rattles off. He doesn’t even flinch, he’s up for the next shot.”
Some goalies might have stopped and paused, Cassidy noted. More than a few would have barked at the teammate who fired the puck. Former backup Jaroslav Halak used to show his displeasure when a shot stung him. Tuukka Rask has thrown pieces of his equipment over the years.
Swayman may do so eventually, but so far, he’s been all sangfroid.
“I mentioned something to him,” Cassidy said, “and he’s like, ‘Don’t pick that position to play, then, if you can’t handle …’ All right, then. Move on. He’s right.”
The rookie, who dipped his toes in NHL waters for 10 games (and one in the playoffs) last year, will lead the Bruins out of the tunnel on Saturday instead of ex-Buffalo keeper Linus Ullmark, who signed here for four years and $20 million.
Ullmark, with a miserable Sabres club in front of him, had a .917 save percentage and 2.63 goals against average in 20 games with Buffalo last season. In six years, the 28-year-old Swede has a .912 save percentage and 2.78 GAA. His record is 50-47-13.
He stumbled through the preseason, allowing more goals (10) than all but one goalie (the Devils’ Jonathan Bernier), and posting the second-worst save percentage (.836) among those with three or more starts. At even strength, his save percentage (.891) was below average.
“Some pucks are finding their way through him,” Cassidy said recently. “For a big man [6 feet, 4 inches, 208 pounds], that’ll be a challenge. That’s how goalies are judged: Are they beat with good shots or are they getting through you?”
Speaking Wednesday, team president Cam Neely left the door open for the unsigned Rask, who has made it clear that he doesn’t intend to play anywhere else. Rask is recovering from hip surgery.
“He’s in rehabbing some mornings, doing well,” Cassidy told 98.5 The Sports Hub on Friday. “It’s a lengthy enough procedure, no matter what. Still got to get back on the ice.
“But he’s probably on target for … I was originally told probably late January, February, somewhere in that area. So, there will be some things to be sorted out down the road, I guess, for him and us. But right now, he’s doing well, and he looks good.”
Checking out lines
Cassidy’s Saturday checklist includes assessing whether his third line, Jake DeBrusk-Erik Haula-Nick Foligno, can play against top-tier opponents; how Taylor Hall and Charlie Coyle mesh (“I think it’s going to be good … not going to judge it on one game”); how Derek Forbort fits into the defensive unit; and whether Tomas Nosek and Trent Frederic can help drive the fourth line … Cassidy, asked to name another plus area of Mike Reilly’s game besides puck-moving, said his hockey sense was “eerily similar” to that of ex-Capitals (and short-time Bruin) defenseman Sergei Gonchar. “He was a bit of a ghost,” said Cassidy, who coached Gonchar in Washington. “He was just able to appear almost out of nowhere in a good shooting spot because he was smart. … [Reilly’s] ability to get available at the right time, his timing, his hockey IQ, is very good.” … Miro Heiskanen, the Stars’ $8.45 million blueliner, will bring some of the best puck-rushing ability in the game to TD Garden. “When he has the puck tomorrow night,” Cassidy said, “you’re going to notice him.” The 22-year-old scored the overtime winner in Thursday’s season opener against the Rangers … Ex-Bruin Tyler Seguin, who missed all but three games of 2020-21 after undergoing hip surgery, is back on the No. 1 line for Dallas. However, defenseman John Klingberg is a question mark after suffering a lower body injury Thursday ... It’s unclear whether Bruins killer Braden Holtby, the ex-Capital, or former Bruin Anton Khudobin will start Saturday. Holtby left Thursday’s win with dehydration after 48 minutes … The latest episode of NESN’s “Behind the B” documentary series offered a look at their team-bonding trip to Rhode Island. Among the activities: a go-kart race. “What’s your sick mind thinking?” Hall asked Brad Marchand as they suited up. Marchand went Tasmanian devil behind the wheel, bumping and spinning Brandon Carlo off the track. He also ran captain Patrice Bergeron from behind, and immediately regretted it. “I didn’t know it was Bergy,” Marchand said. “I’ve got to apologize to him.”