101 goalies and 89 years have passed and served the Boston Bruins franchise well, all while providing heartbreak, tears of joy, humiliating losses, and celebratory wins.
The Bruins franchise has, for a lack of better terms, given a celebrity connotation to countless goalies. These goalies have helped the Bruins rack up six Stanley Cups (the latest one in 2011), 13 more Stanley Cup Finals appearances, and 24 division championships. Also, after the 1989-90 season, the Presidents’ Trophy (NHL team with the most wins during the regular season) was awarded to the Bruins.
Needless to say, the franchise and its goalies have been extremely successful in the past 89 years. So have you ever wondered who were the best goalies? Sure, Tim Thomas recently won a Stanley Cup and Tuukka Rask brought us back to the finals this season, but how do they compare against past Bruin net minders?
Good news: I have researched many Bruins archives and have shortened my list of top goaltenders of the Boston franchise.
Without further adieu, here are the top 10 Bruins goalies in franchise history:
10. Rejean Lemelin
- If you shared a trophy (William Jennings Memorial Trophy) with Andy Moog, you definitely rank in the top 10. Lemelin shared the trophy with Moog in 1990 following a successful 22-15-2 record, along with a season career-best 2.81 goals against average (GAA). During his most successful season (oddly enough, his first season with the Bruins in 1987-88), he recorded 24 wins and led the NHL playoffs in shutouts with one and GAA of 2.63.
9. Tuukka Rask
- Some may dispute whether or not Tuukka Rask is one of the top 10 Bruins goalies of all time. After this season, I believe he indubitably is in the top 10. Rask gobbled up 715 out of 761 shots in the 2013 NHL playoffs and earned the second highest save percentage of the postseason at .940 (Jonathon Bernier of the LA Kings had the highest with 1.000, only playing for a total of 30 minutes). In the 2013 Eastern Conference Final, Rask collected two shutouts and allowed only two goals against the fan-favorite Pittsburgh Penguins in the four-game sweep. Rask is sailing into his prime so there is a strong possibility that in a few years he will surpass a few of the net minders in the top five. Disregarding his success in the postseason, in the regular season he averages 2.16 goals against, second in team history.
8. Ed Johnston
- Johnston stole the show during the 1972 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. He led all goaltenders during the playoffs in wins (6) and GAA (1.86). In that same year, he successfully drove the Bruins to the Stanley Cup finals, in which they come out victorious. He tallied 27 shutouts and 180 wins in the 444 games he played during his career. I could argue Johnson to be lower in the top 10, but the records he holds are infamous rather than glorious. In the 1963-64 season he had 40 losses and the season that followed he had another 32 losses in one season.
7. Byron Dafoe
- Who could forget Lord Dafoe, the man who posted an impressive ten shutouts during the 1998-99 regular season. He racked up 15 more career shutouts, putting him one shy from Gerry Cheevers’ record of 26. While playing for the Bruins, he jolted a career playoff save percentage of .906, placing him third in franchise history. His career playoff GAA was 2.29, ranking fourth. Essentially what I’m getting at is in clutch games during the season and playoffs, Dafoe was the guy you wanted in the net. Three career playoff shutouts (fourth best in franchise history) followed him when he was traded.
6. Gilles Gilbert
- A trade from Minnesota, Gilles Gilbert was forced to slip into the legendary skates of Cheevers (who you’ll hear more about later on in this article). Gilbert slipped on those skates like Cinderella and the glass slipper for the 1973-74 season. With 34 wins and only 12 losses under his belt, he pushed the Bruins into the Stanley Cup playoffs. He finished the playoffs with 10 wins and a playoff career-low 2.64 GAA. He completed his Bruins career after the 1979-80 season leaving with 155 regular season wins and 73 losses. Following a tough season, in the 1975-76 season Gilbert tallied 33 wins and a mere eight losses. He may have been a Cinderella story through the mid 70s, but he was no Cheevers.
5. Andy Moog
- Moog led the Bruins to the playoffs five years in a row (1988-89 to 1992-93). He completed his career for the Bruins with 136 regular season wins while raking in 13 shutouts. 37 of those wins came during the 1992-93 season, earning him the third highest in franchise history for the wins category. The 5-foot-10 British Columbian led the 1990 NHL playoffs in shutouts (2) and GAA (2.21). His save percentage after the 1990 playoffs was .909. The amount of shots Moog faced was absurd. 8,605 blistering bullets fired towards Moog during his 331-game, 6-year career. Also, Moog played in 70 games during the playoffs, which was the second highest games played by a Bruins goalie.
4. Tim Thomas
- 2011 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs Most Valuable Player, Tim Thomas lifted the cup two seasons ago for the Bruins after upsetting the Vancouver Canucks on their home ice. In that same season, during the regular season, Thomas led the NHL in GAA (2.00) and save percentage (.938). In 2008, 2009 and 2011, he was selected to play in the NHL All-Star game. He gathered 196 wins during his career and has the second-highest average save percentage of .921, behind current net minder Tuukka Rask.
3. Gerry Cheevers
- As mentioned before, Cheevers was one of the legendary Bruin goalies. He totaled 229 regular season wins, 26 shutouts and 74 ties in his 416 games. Cheevers had the drive to play in the playoffs every season. He played in 88 games as a Bruin in the playoffs. He earned 53 wins (Bruins record) and 8 shutouts. Three out of four straight seasons, Cheevers led the NHL playoffs in at least one category. In 1968-69 he led with three shutouts. The following playoffs, he led in games played (13) and wins (12). With the 12-1 record, he and the Bruins added another Stanley Cup to franchise history. Two seasons later, he and the Bruins hoisted the cup again. He led the 1972 playoffs in wins with six.
2. Frank “Mr. Zero” Brimsek
- Brimsek was difficult to not place in first, but alas, he ranks second in various categories for Bruins franchise records. In no way is that a negative, but the same man led those categories, docking Mr. Zero into overall second best. Playing a total of 444 games in nine seasons for the Bruins, Brimsek was essentially the backbone of the team during his career. He did not have one losing season. 230 wins, 144 losses and 70 ties with the Bruins elevated him into the elite Hockey Hall of Fame. Although Brimsek may not be the best Bruin goaltender throughout the Boston Bruins 89 years of franchise existence, he did have an overly accomplished career. In the 1938-39 and 1939-40 seasons he led the NHL in wins (33 and 31). After the 1939 Stanley Cup finals (in which he delivered the Cup to the city of Boston), he concluded the playoffs with eight wins and a GAA of 1.25, which was the best during the playoffs. Concluding a successful regular season in 1939-40, the Bruins were knocked out of the playoffs early. However, this did not stop them from bouncing back the following season. In 1941, again, Brimsek and the Bruins held the Stanley Cup. Brimsek collected a playoff-high wins, yet again, with eight.
1. Cecil “Tiny” Thompson
- Last but not least, good ole Tiny. Cecil “Tiny” Thompson is the best Boston Bruin goalie in franchise history. He holds numerous career season records. Tiny Thompson finished with a record-high 252 wins in his 10-year career. Not only does he hold the record for wins, but also the GAA record. Playing in 468 games (record-high), he earned a 1.99 GAA. Thompson was literally impenetrable during his career for Boston. He gathered 74 shutouts (record-high) with the Bruins, catapulting him into first in franchise history. In perspective, Frank Brimsek, second highest in recorded shutouts, acquired less than half (35) of Thompson’s shutout record. Most importantly, Tiny led the Bruins to its first franchise Stanley Cup win in 1929. During the 1929 playoffs, he grabbed a playoff-high five wins, three shutouts and an astonishing GAA of 0.60.