Ways the Maple Leafs can solve Jeremy Swayman

Photo Credits: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Goaltending is always the key to success in the yearly Stanley Cup playoffs. If a team’s goalie gets hot, they can go on a run. It happens every time. Goaltending has been one of the many factors for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins in their first-round matchup of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Bruins have a solid tandem in Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman. Both goalies have split games so far in this series.

Jeremy Swayman has played amazingly in the two games he has started, only allowing three goals. Sportsnet Stats tweeted last night that in his last two seasons vs. Toronto, Swayman is 6-0-0 with a 1.31 GAA and a save percentage of .959. Toronto will need to make adjustments if they want to find success against Swayman and the Bruins.

The Leafs will need to get Swayman uncomfortable; goals will be generated if they can get him moving and make him lose sight of the puck or distract him with somebody in front of the net. Moving the puck quickly and accurately can disrupt a goalie’s positioning and make it harder for them to anticipate shots. The Leafs need to shoot everything on the net to create scoring opportunities. We saw that last night when Morgan Rielly threw a point shot toward Swayman, and it deflected off Tyler Bertuzzi, and the puck ended up in the back of the net. It worked last year against Andrei Vasilevskiy and helped them win their series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Something to notice about Swayman is that shooting high is his weakness. Every goalie has a weak spot, and it happens to be shooting high on him. Toronto needs to find ways to get chances and shoot for the top corner; it can exploit any vulnerabilities Swayman might have in covering the top corners of the net. In game one, Simon Benoit hit the crossbar by trying to shoot over Swayman’s shoulder, and in two regular-season games this season, both John Tavares and Auston Matthews scored on Swayman by shooting high.

Coaches always tell their players to crash the net. Matthew Knies did that in game three to score. Swayman has quick reflexes and excellent athleticism. Toronto has been getting a lot of rebound chances but has had trouble scoring on them. The Leafs need to focus on crashing the net hard to capitalize on any rebounds Swayman gives up.

Toronto must study Swayman’s past performances and tendencies. Considering his strengths and weaknesses, the Leafs’ coaching staff and players must be strategic and take advantage. Toronto must also continue studying Swayman’s game footage so they can identify patterns in his positioning, movement, different shots, and reaction time.

The Leafs are trailing Boston 2-1 in their best-of-seven series. If they expect to beat Boston and win the series, they will have to try anything and everything against Swayman.

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