The Boston Bruins will have two rookies goaltenders active for Wednesday night's game against the Philadelphia Flyers, giving the franchise a preview of its future in net.
Jeremy Swayman will make his NHL debut between the pipes versus the Flyers on the second night of a back-to-back. B's rookie Dan Vladar, who started in Monday night's 3-2 loss to the Flyers, will be the backup Tuesday.
Vladar and Swayman are two of the top prospects in the Bruins' system regardless of position. They represent a bright future for the B's in net, and their time in the spotlight has come sooner than many would have anticipated.
Wednesday's matchup is not insignificant. The Bruins are holding on to the fourth and final playoff spot. The team chasing them is the Flyers, who trail the B's by three points with three more games played than Boston.
The Bruins should feel confident about Swayman's ability to handle the pressure. He had a fantastic 2019-20 season for the University of Maine and carried that confidence into the AHL this season. Swayman has posted a 8-1-1 record with a 1.89 goals against average and a .933 save percentage for the Providence Bruins. He's risen to the challenge with each level he ascends.
Bruins fans should pay close attention to how both Vladar and Swayman perform this season. Veteran netminders Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak are both able to become unrestricted free agents in the summer. If neither one re-signs with Boston, the team could go into next season with Vladar and Swayman as the goaltending tandem. In an ideal world, Rask would be healthy and back with the Bruins next season. But who knows how his situation will unfold. Injuries have resulted in Rask playing just 20 minutes of hockey since March 7.
With both Rask (injury) and Halak (COVID protocols) unavailable right now, the Bruins are about to enter an important stretch of the season with a pair of rookies playing the sport's most important position. It's not the best-case scenario by any means, but given how how impressive Vladar and Swayman have looked in 2021, the Bruins should be able to weather this period without plummeting in the standings.