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Who is the Best Goaltender in Bruins History?

(Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

By: Gayle Troiani | Follow me on Twitter @LadyBruinsFan

“Most fans go wild when they see a goalie make what looks like a great save, but the chances are what they are seeing is a save that was made from being out of position.”

Mike Richter, New York Ranger goalie 1989-2003

Goaltenders are the most important player on a hockey team. Often described as agile and technically sound, goaltenders are the last line of defense and the best penalty killer. As a result, they directly impact the game’s outcome. The Bruins have been fortunate to have some stellar goalies put on the pads and defend their net.

Netminders like Frank Brimsek and Andrew Raycroft both won the Calder Memorial Trophy for Rookie of the Year; Tim Thomas won the Conn Smythe Trophy for the most valuable player in the playoffs. Three goalie tandems, Reggie Lemelin and Andy Moog, Manny Fernandez and Thomas, and Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak, have earned the William M. Jennings Trophy for the fewest goals given up in the regular season.

Brimsek, Thomas, Rask, Pete Peeters, and Tiny Thompson have all won the Vezina Trophy for the top goaltender in the NHL. Yet as crucial as the goaltender is to the team, out of the 12 retired Bruin jersey numbers, none of them are goalies. With so many to choose from, who is the best to put on the pads for Boston?

5. Frank Brimsek

( Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images )

Brimsek played 444 games in net for the Bruins, winning the Stanely Cup in 1939 and 1941. Out of his 230 wins, 35 of them came via the shutout. He is one of three Bruin goaltenders to win the Vezina at least twice (1938-19 and 1941-42) and the only Boston goalie to win both the Calder Memorial and Vezina Trophies in the same season (1938-1939). Brimsek was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966.

4. Tim Thomas

No one can deny the performance Thomas had during the 2011 Stanley Cup run between the pipes for Boston becoming the first goalie since the 1974-75 season to win the Stanley Cup, Vezina, and Conn Smythe trophies in the same season. Thomas earned his first Vezina Trophy in 2009, leading the league with his 2.10 GAA and .933 save percentage during the 2008-09 season. Thomas had 196 wins out of his 378 games played in Boston. His save percentage of .921 still tops the all-time list for the black and gold throughout his eight seasons with the Bruins.

3. Gerry Cheevers

( Photo Credit: Melchior DiGiacomo / Getty Images )

Cheevers was the netminder that led the Bruins to their 1970, and 1972 Stanley Cup wins. Over his ten seasons with Boston, Cheevers faced 11747 shots making 10579 saves for a save percentage of .901. He won 226 games and had 26 shutouts. Cheevers did not only play 416 games in the net for Boston, but he also led the team behind the bench as head coach for four seasons in the 1980s before being fired after 56 games of the 1984-85 season. Cheevers was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985.

2. Tuukka Rask

Rask is the only goalie on this list that hasn’t won a Stanley Cup. Yes, his name is engraved on the most coveted trophy in all of sports, but at a backup in 2011. Rask leads all Bruins goalies with 308 wins, is second in shutouts (52), and is tied for first in save percentage with Thomas (.921). Rask led the Bruins to two Stanley Cup Finals in 2013 and 2019. Unfortunately, the black and gold were on the losing end of both series. However, his 54 playoff wins are the team’s best all-time.

Tiny Thompson

( Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images )

Thompson is second behind Rask in wins (252) but holds the record for shutouts with 74. Thompson also tops the list with a 1.99 goals-against average over his 11 years in Boston. He led the Bruins to their first-ever Stanley Cup win in 1928-29 and won four Vezina Trophies while playing for Boston. Thompson held the record for most games played (468) until 2019 when Rask surpassed him with 564. Thompson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1959.

There’s the Top 5; would you rank them differently? What makes a goaltender the best? Does Stanley Cup wins put them on top? Save percentage or shutouts? Which of the five deserves to have their number retired in Boston?

1 Comment

  1. Claude Laporte

    I did not watch playing no. 1 & 5, so I can’t consider them. I think that the best way to determine who was the best is to answer this question : who would you put in the net for the seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals ? To me, there is but one clear answer : Tim Thomas. The guy is a winner

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