Boston rookie goaltender Jeremy Swayman, shown training camp in January, is 7-0 with a .942 save percentage and 1.57 GAA in his first pro season with Providence of the American Hockey League. Elise Amendola/Associated Press

While many fans and observers had been clamoring to see former University of Maine goalie Jeremy Swayman make his NHL debut on Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Bruins decided to go with the more experienced Dan Vladar, who is in his fifth season as a professional but also had never started an NHL game.

It was presumably a difficult decision – there was no need to bring Swayman on the trip if Vladar was the obvious choice – and, whether it was the right one or not, it was a choice not made lightly.

A 2015 third-round draft pick, the 23-year-old Vladar posted a 14-7-1 record, a .936 save percentage and a 1.79 GAA last year in Providence and is 2-2-1 this season with a .923 save percentage and a 2.01 GAA.

But Swayman, a fourth-rounder in 2017, is the Bruins’ shiny new toy. After winning the Mike Richter Award as the NCAA’s best goalie last year, the rookie is 7-0 with a .942 save percentage and 1.57 GAA in his first pro season with Providence.

With the position being the most specialized in hockey and teams investing more and more resources in it, Coach Bruce Cassidy left the decision mostly to the experts.

“When we found out that Tuukka (Rask) may not be ready to play on Tuesday, the discussion was we’re not going to play Jaro (Halak) back-to-back. That’s the first discussion under these circumstances. He’s played four in a row. We play Thursday (in Buffalo),” said Cassidy. “So who is the best fit to go in? Is it Vladar, is it Swayman?


“And those decisions go to (goalie coach Bob Essensa), it’s his area, Mike Dunham, who’s down in Providence, (GM Don Sweeney) and I don’t know if (Providence Coach) Jay Leach would get that involved because the goalie coach would have a better feel for it. It’s essentially the goaltenders department and they make the recommendation. … And the resume for both are very good. They’ve got to pick one. Vladdy does have more experience. He’s been around longer. There’s that part of it. He’s earned the right to get in there.”’

It was hard to argue with the result. Vladar made 34 saves for his first NHL win.

In the relatively good news department, Cassidy said that Rask was on the ice for the second day in a row, and though the goalie was skating as the coach spoke to reporters in the morning, there had been no adverse effects from his first day on the ice. Rask hasn’t played since suffering an apparent back injury on March 7.

OSKAR STEEN also made his NHL debut on Tuesday. The 5-foot-9, 188-pound Swede – a sixth-round draft pick in 2016 – played 9:13, with two shots and five hits.

“I thought he was good. He got boxed out of (the special teams) a little bit, so we’ll have to look at that going forward,” said Cassidy. “And at the end, he got hit and his nose was a little bloody and you can’t go on the ice if you’re dripping. They were trying to fix him up, the poor guy. So he got caught in the shuffle there, too. But all in all, I thought he did his job. I thought he was pretty good on the walls for a kid who’s played more center. We’ll look closer, but he helped us win. I noticed some good things, some puck battles, and I noticed him wanting to attack.”

To make room for Steen, Anders Bjork (one goal in 24 games) took a seat.

INJURIES: Brandon Carlo, out since taking a head shot from the Capitals’ Tom Wilson on March 5, has not yet skated since suffering the head injury, though Cassidy said he is available every day for testing and off-ice activity. After Washington’s win over the Islanders on Tuesday, Wilson has just one more game left on his seven-game suspension before he’s unleashed on the league once again.

Kevan Miller continues to skate in Boston, and Cassidy did not rule him out from joining the team in Buffalo, but did not think he’d be able to play on Thursday. John Moore, meanwhile, remained home with a lower-body injury, said Cassidy.

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