Top 10 Goalies in Boston Bruins History
Who are the Top 10 backstops in Boston Bruins history? Some of the names you know and some may not be as familiar to you unless you were born in 1924. Sit back, put on your pads, waffle, favorite mask, grab your stick, and journey with me through Bruins days past and present.
These are the Best Goalies in Boston Bruins history.
10. Pete Peeters
Peeters joined the Bruins in the ’82-’83 season after being traded from the Philadelphia Flyers. He paid instant dividends in his first season with Boston. Peeters posted 40 wins (8 shutouts) with a GAA of 2.36 and won the Vezina Trophy.
He would play two more seasons with Boston before being dealt to Washington during the ’85-’86 campaign. Peter Peeters ranks 11th on the Bruins All Time list with 91 regular season wins. He also earned nine wins in the playoffs.
9. Reggie Lemelin
After losing his starting job in Calgary to Mike Vernon, Rejean “Reggie” Lemelin joined the Bruins during the ’87-’88 where he shared goaltending duties with Andy Moog.
During his first full season with the B’s, Lemelin posted 24 wins with a GAA of 2.93, helping Boston to the Stanley Cup Finals against Edmonton. During that playoff run, he won 11 games and had a better GAA (2.64) than he did during the regular season. The Bruins rode Lemelin as Moog struggled in the post season.
The Bruins made a return trip to the Finals in ’89-’90 season. Lemelin was yet again an integral part of the team’s success. He won 22 games with a 2.80 GAA. Moog and Lemelin captured the President’s Trophy for fewest goals allowed in the NHL.
The Bruins rode Moog’s hot hand in the playoffs that year. However, they would fall to the Oilers yet again in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Lemelin would play with the Bruins until the ’92-’93 season. He was limited in his last two seasons, posting just 18 wins. Lemelin currently ranks tenth on the Bruins all time regular season list with 92 wins.
8. Tim Thomas
His journey to the Bruins has been long to say the least. Thomas was originally drafted in 1994 by the Quebec Nordiques after graduating from the University of Vermont. He spent the early stages of his career playing in the minor leagues and in Europe.
In 2006-2007, Thomas took over the starting job posting a 30-29 record with a 3.13 GAA. Thomas has become a fixture between the pipes ever since. In the 2007-2008 season, he recorded a 28-19-6 record with a 2.44 GAA and helped the Bruins return to the playoffs.
Thomas had his best career season in 2008-2009, when he posted a 36-11-7 record with a league low 2.10 GAA. His play catapulted the Bruins to the top of the Eastern Conference and to their first playoff series win in almost a decade (he went 7-4 in the playoffs with a microscopic 1.85 GAA).
Thomas has 122 career wins for Boston which is good for eighth best in franchise history. He should be able to surpass Byron Dafoe this season with just ten more wins. Thomas has solidified the goaltending position in Boston and shows that you get better with age.
7. Byron Dafoe
Byron Dafoe or “Lord Byron” as his fans know him, was traded from LA to Boston during the ’97-’98 season. He made an instant impact with his new club. During his first full season, Dafoe posted 30 wins with a GAA of 2.24 leading the Bruins to the post season.
Dafoe outdid himself the next season. He won 32 games with a microscopic 1.99 GAA. He led the Bruins to the post season again and backstopped Boston to a first round series win over Carolina (this was the Bruins last series win before they defeated Montreal in the ’08-’09 playoffs). Lord Byron was recognized for his stellar play and finished third in Vezina Trophy voting.
Dafoe and the Bruins would have a subpar season in ’09-’00. They missed the playoffs and Dafoe held out due to his contract and just earned 13 wins in 41 games.
His next season was marred by injuries, but he rebounded in ’01-’02 with 35 wins. The Bruins reached the playoffs but had a quick exit in the first round.
Dafoe would leave Boston to sign with Atlanta after the season. Dafoe ranks seventh in Bruins history with 132 wins.
6. Andy Moog
The Bruins traded goalie Bill Ranford to the Oilers for Moog at the ’87-’88 trading deadline. Moog would only play in six games at the end of the regular season and played seven games(1-4-1) in the playoffs before making way to the hot goaltender, Reggie Lemelin(11-6 in 17 games).
Moog along with Lemelin would capture the President’s Trophy for least goals allowed during the ’90 season. Both goaltenders were playing on a high level that season. Moog won 24 games with a 2.89 GAA.
Andy Moog would be the better goalie during the ’89-’90 playoffs. His record was 13-7 with a GAA of 2.21 as the Bruins had a return trip to Stanley Cup Finals for a rematch against the Oilers. Boston would fall short yet again, losing in five games.
Moog would gain a reputation as a “Hab” killer for his play against long time rival Montreal. He beat them in the ’91 and ’92 playoffs leading the Bruins to the Conference Finals both those years. The Bruins would succumb to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion, Pittsburgh Penguins.
Moog was traded to then Minnesota North Stars following the ’92-’93 season. During his playing time in Boston, Moog won 136 regular season good for sixth on the Bruins All Time wins list. He was also an integral part of two Stanley Cup Finals berths. Moog finished his Bruins career with 36 playoff wins which is the second most in team history.
Johnston came to Boston in 1962 after stints in the Quebec Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League. Johnston is the last goalie in NHL history to have played in every minute of every game. In the ’63-’64 season, he posted a record of 18-40-12 in 70 games.
In his first five years in the league, the Bruins were not a competitive club. They missed the playoffs every year. However in 1967 with the arrival of expansion, the Bruins began to build a dynasty.
After Orr and Esposito joined the club, the team began to flourish. Johnston served as the back-up to Gerry Cheevers during the Big Bad Bruins days of the 1970’s. Cheevers and Johnston backstopped Boston to two Stanley Cup titles in 1970 and 1972. Johnston had his best statistical season in ’70-’71 when he won 30 games and posted a 2.53 goals against average.
Johnston won 180 regular season games which is good for fourth all time in Boston Bruins franchise history. He played 11 seasons for Boston before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
4. Gilles Gilbert
Gilles Gilbert came to Boston via Minnesota to replace legend Gerry Cheevers. Cheevers bolted for the fledgling WHA and Gilbert became the Bruins primary goalie during the ’73-’74 season.
No one replaces Cheevers, but Gilbert made Bruins fans forget him a little. Gilles won 34 games and led the Bruins to Stanley Cup Finals that year. He won 10 playoff games, but Boston lost to Philadelphia, four games to two.
During the ’75-’76 season, Gilbert set a record which still stands for most consecutive wins with 17. He would finish the season with 33 wins and a GAA of 2.90.
Gerry Cheevers returned to the NHL and the Bruins during the ’76-’77 season. Gilbert and Cheevers would share goaltending duties for the next four seasons. Who knows what numbers Gilbert would have put up if he was the primary goalie?
Both goalies had career years in the ’79-’80 campaign where they both finished as runner ups for the Vezina trophy.
Gilbert would be shipped to Detroit following the season. Gilbert had 155 regular season wins (fifth all time) and 17 playoff victories (fourth all time) in his career with the Boston Bruins.
3. Cecil “Tiny” Thompson
Thompson’s contract was purchased from the Minneapolis Milers of the American Hockey League by Bruins manager Art Ross in the ’28-’29 season. Ross never saw Thompson play, but made his decision based on his reputation in Minnesota.
The gamble paid off for Ross and Boston. In his first season, “Tiny” won 26 of the 44 games he played and posted a microscopic 1.15 GAA. His goal against average is the second lowest GAA all time. He backstopped the Bruins to their first ever Stanley Cup championship with five wins which included three via the shutout.
In the following season, Thompson proved he was no fluke. He posted a career best 38 wins leading the Bruins to the best record in the league. Thompson only let up a total of 98 goals which helped him win his first of four Vezina Trophies.
Cecil “Tiny” Thompson played in Boston for 10 plus seasons before being shipped over to Detroit early in the ’38-’39 season. The Bruins brought in heir apparent, Frank Brimsek to play between the pipes.
Thompson had a stellar career in Boston by winning 252 games and 74 shutouts which are both bests in franchise history. He made his biggest mark by backstopping the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup championship.
Cecil Thompson was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1959.
2. Gerry Cheevers
Gerry “Cheesey” Cheevers was drafted by Boston in 1965. By the ’67-’68, Cheevers became the Bruins No. 1 goaltender. That season, Cheevers won 23 games in 47 games.
During the ’69-’70, Cheevers and Eddie Johnston led the Bruins to their first Cup since the ’40-’41 season. “Cheesey” won 24 of his 41 starts with a 2.74 GAA. In the playoffs, Cheevers played at the top of his game when it counted most. He recorded an incredible 12-1 record with a 2.23 GAA as the Bruins defeated the St. Louis Blues for their fourth title.
After a strong ’70-’71 season, the Bruins and Cheevers had an early exit in the playoffs. He followed up his 27 win season with another 27 win season during the '71-‘72 campaign. During that season, he went undefeated in 33 consecutive games which is a NHL record that still stands today.
Cheevers (8-6-2) and Eddie Johnston (6-1) were a dynamic duo again leading the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Finals yet again. Boston would go on to defeat the New York Rangers four games to two for their second title in three years.
Gerry Cheevers then bolted from Boston for the new league on the block, the WHA. He continued his stellar play with the Cleveland Crusaders. However, after a contract dispute during the ’76 season, he returned to Boston.
Cheevers would have a new netminding partner in Gilles Gilbert after the retirement of Eddie Johnston. The duo would have their best season together during the ’79-’80 season where they both finished as runner ups in Vezina Trophy voting.
Gerry “Cheesey” Cheevers retired as a Boston Bruin. He is currently the third all time in wins with 229, falling one win short of Frank Brimsek who is sitting in second. Cheevers turned it on in the playoffs; he leads the Bruins in career post season wins with 53 and shutouts with eight. He was an integral part of a Boston Bruins team that captured two Stanley Cups and fell just short in ’74.
Gerry Cheevers was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985.
1. Frank Brimsek
Frank “Mr. Zero” Brimsek was signed by the Bruins in prior to the ’38-’39 season to replace legend Tiny Thompson. He did not disappoint his first regular season. He won 33 of the 43 games he played in. Of those 33 victories, 10 came way of the shutout and the “Mr. Zero” nickname was born.
Brimsek’s stellar rookie season continued in the playoffs. He went 8-4 and led the Boston franchise to their second Stanley Cup Title. For his freshman campaign, Brimsek walked away with the Calder Trophy.
After a successful sophomore campaign (31 wins in 48 games with a 1.99 GAA) in ’39-‘40, Brimsek helped the Bruins make another Stanley Cup run the following season. “Mr. Zero” posted 27 wins and 8 playoff victories in route to another Stanley Cup championship in Beantown. Beside the Cup, Brimsek walked with another piece of hardware, the Vezina Trophy (which he won twice in his career).
During wartime, some of Brimsek’s teammates were called into service. He singlehandedly carried the Bruins into the playoffs with his all world play. In 1943, Brimsek would answer the call and serve in the U.S. Coast Guard.
Brimsek returned to the Bruins during the ’45-’46 season. He would go on to play in Boston until the ’48-’49 season when he was then traded to Chicago.
Frank “Mr. Zero” Brimsek, arguably one of the best American born netkeepers ever, accumulated 230 career regular season wins and 35 shutouts. Both of these stats are good for second all time in Boston Bruins history. He also hoisted up the Stanley Cup twice in his career.
And he didn't wear a MASK!
Frank Brimsek was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966.