Editor’s note: Anthony is going to run a weekly post series highlighting the top performer or two of the past week. Highlights, stats, arguments, etc. This is the first entry in that series.
Presenting the very official “Player of the Week” post!
There are no real metrics or standards that need to be met for this crown. It’s just who feels like they’ve had the best week for the team. It doesn’t necessarily have to be heavily stats based, but there are stats involved.
Now that we’ve gotten those very strict guidelines out of the way...this week’s player of the week is Jeremy Swayman!
The competition was heavy in the inaugural player of the week contest. David Krejci had six assists in four games. Pavel Zacha, fresh off a shiny new contract, found his scoring touch and added two assists for good measure. David Pastrnak continued his dominance, while Charlie McAvoy and Brad Marchand looked like they’d finally reached their pre-surgery selves.
But the best performance of the week came from Swayman.
The Bruins’ goaltending tandem had its most dominant week of the season.
Both Linus Ullmark and Swayman allowed just one goal in two games. Both would’ve had a shutout if not for Ullmark’s skate blade falling off near the end of Sunday’s game versus the San Jose Sharks, forcing Swayman to come in and make a save, wiping out Ullmark’s “official” shutout.
Between the two goalies, however, Swayman stood out over Ullmark. He has found his grove after an up-and-down start to the season and has gradually improved to reach the level where he is now.
Swayman has given up just two goals in his last four games and the Bruins have won every one.
The Bruins’ schedule hasn’t been super easy since the team returned from California. This week was especially tough, with the team playing four games in seven days, including a back-to-back against the surging New York Rangers and the New York Islanders, who are currently out of the playoff picture but are three games over .500.
Swayman had a fundamentally sound game against a pesky Philadelphia Flyers team that the Bruins did blow out but still managed to surrender 29 shots against.
His most important performance of the year came against the Rangers, who dominated the Bruins in 5-on-5 possession.
The Bruins had a Corsi-for percentage of 43.33 and surrendered 32 shots total, but Swayman’s performance allowed the Bruins to build a gradual 3-0 lead and slowly choke out the Rangers before winning 3-1.
Swayman’s game against the Rangers was excellent. He made spectacular saves, but even more impressive was how well he squared to shooters and always seemed to be in the perfect position to make a save.
The most clutch save came in the closing seconds of the first period. With the Bruins clinging to a 1-0 lead, Swayman stopped a last-second deflection by Chris Kreider off a pass from Artemi Panarin.
Giving up a goal in the closing minute before the end of a period is a no-no in hockey.
Swayman’s save allowed the Bruins to enter the intermission with a lead and continue to tighten the noose as the game went on. Even though it came in the first period, it may have been a game-saver.
Swayman’s week was better than any goalie in the league. His .984 save percentage and 0.49 goals against were the best among goalies who started more than a game. His goals saved above expected of 4.68 was also tops in the league.
Pavel Zacha had a week. He finally found his scoring touch, to the tune of three goals and five points in four games. His one-timer against the Flyers was a scorcher. Even in slow motion, it’s hard to see the puck.
Speaking of well-timed highlights in the Rangers game, Zacha had one as well, scoring the team’s opening goal in the aforementioned 3-1 win.
Zacha tipped home a low shot by Krejci to put the Bruins up by a goal early and force the Rangers to try to play catch from nearly the opening whistle.
This week showcased the dominance of the Czech line, and a lot of it was thanks to Zacha. The line combined for 17 points in four games.
With a performance like that, Zacha is making the Bruins look smart for giving him that new contract (now sign Pasta).
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