The Best Bruin To Ever Wear The Number One

(Photo Credit: George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)

By Joe Chrzanowski  |  Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19

Welcome to the first of what will hopefully become a long and very entertaining series of articles. I am going to look at the best Bruin’s player to wear each number throughout the organization’s long and storied history. I will be skipping the retired numbers because it’s pretty self-explanatory who the best Bruin to don each of those revered numbers was.

Just to get it out of the way, in case anyone has forgotten, these are the current retired numbers in Boston:

#2 – Eddie Shore, #3 – Lionel Hitchman, #4 – Bobby Orr, #5 – Dit Clapper, #7 – Phil Esposito, #8 – Cam Neely, #9 – John Bucyk, #15 – Milt Schmidt, #16 – Rick Middleton, #24 – Terry O’Reilly, #77 – Ray Bourque.

Eleven numbers may seem like a lot, but it still leaves us 88 more to contemplate.

The best place to start this series, numerically anyway, is pretty obvious, and that would be with the number one. Generally speaking, the number one is worn in the NHL by goaltenders, and the greatest players to ever sport that number in B’s history were no exception. In an organization that has been around as long as the Bruins have, you would think that the competition would be pretty fierce? Normally, that would be a safe assumption. Unfortunately, in the case of the number one, the competition IS fierce, but it’s not for first place, it’s for third. That said, there is still a worthy discussion to be had for the runner-ups.

(Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Bruins have two goalies that played their careers primarily in the 1930s and 1940s that have without question locked up the first and second spots as the greatest B’s players to ever wear the number One. Those two guys are Cecil “Tiny” Thompson and Frank “Mr. Zero” Brimsek. While it is difficult to compare players across different eras, these two players were able to pile up more than enough wins and hardware to leave no doubt that they were the top dogs in this contest.

Thompson was the preeminent goaltender of the 1930s. During that decade (and in 1928-29,) he played in 468 games for the Bruins, had a GAA of 1.99 (Save Percentage was not a stat yet), and a whopping 74 shutouts. He won 252 games for Boston, and both his games played and win totals are 2nd all-time for the B’s. They were 1st until recently being eclipsed by Tuukka Rask. In addition to those impressive numbers, Tiny won a Cup in 1929, had four All-Star game appearances, and four Vezina Trophies on his resume. In that era, the Vezina was given to the goalie whose team allowed the fewest amount of regular-season goals. This was no slight as Thompson was largely responsible for that. In 1936 he became the first goalie in NHL history to record an assist in a game. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1959. For my money, he is the best player to wear number one for the Bruins.

Frank Brimsek played for the Bruins from 1938-1948. Somewhat ironically, it was Brimsek that forced out and took over for Thompson in 1938. Tiny suffered an eye injury, and Brimsek played so well in his stead that the Bruins dealt Thompson to Detroit in November of 1938. It would mark the beginning of an impressive nine-year run in the Boston goal. Brimsek would suit up for 444 games (tied for 3rd on the B’s all-time list), winning 230 with 35 shutouts. During that time, he would also win two Stanley Cups and two Vezina Trophies, along with being named to the All-Star team eight times.

(Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Brimsek earned his famous “Mr. Zero” nickname after recording six shutouts in his first eight games and setting a league record for consecutive scoreless minutes in the process. Brimsek was born in Eveleth, Minnesota, which is notable because he was one of very few Americans in the NHL in the 1940s. The United States Hockey Hall of Fame was established in Brimsek’s hometown in 1973, and he was part of the original group of 25 to be inducted. In addition, an award given to the best senior high school goalie in the state of Minnesota is named after him. He joined Tiny Thompson in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966 and is a close second to him for best Bruin to ever wear the number one.

There are a number of other goalies that have worn the number one for the Bruins over the years. Some have been goalies that made their fame with other teams and wore it briefly for the Black and Gold. Guys like Terry Sawchuk, Rogie Vachon, and Marty Turco fall into this category. While they were great netminders, they were not in Boston long enough to warrant consideration.

The next trio of goalies I considered were all players that fell short of third place for one reason or another, whether it be lack of tenure or performance. Andrew Raycroft had good numbers with Boston (2.62 GAA, .908 Save %), but he only played 108 games and had a losing record before being traded to TOR for Tuukka Rask. Pete Peeters played 171 games in Boston and had 91 wins, but his stats were not great (3.00 GAA, .883 SP), and he had more games and years in a Flyers uniform than a B’s sweater. Last but not least was Reggie Lemelin, who, while he was in Boston, was beloved by the fans for his “fist pump” celebration after games. In six years in Boston, he played in 182 games, had 92 wins, but the numbers were average. His GAA was 3.09, and his save percentage came in at .884. All three of these players were good, but not good enough for the top three.

(Photo Credit: Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Third place for the best to wear the number one in Boston came down to two goalies in my estimation, Eddie Johnston and Gilles Gilbert. Readers younger than myself are probably much more familiar with Gilbert than Johnston, who played primarily in the ’60s for the B’s. Gilbert was known for being on the losing end to Philly and later Montreal in the ’70s under Don Cherry.

While Johnston might be lesser-known to today’s Bruins fans, he has a very respectable resume. He played in Boston from 1962 thru 1973, amassing 444 games for the B’s (tied for 3rd all-time with Brimsek), winning 182, with a GAA of 3.22 and a .900 Save Percentage. He was the starter before Gerry Cheevers established himself and backed “Cheesy” up in the late 1960s and early ’70s. His numbers were very comparable to Cheevers,’ and he actually played in more games for the Bruins. He was also a key contributor on both Stanley Cup teams, playing 37 games in 1970 and 38 games in 1972. Despite these solid stats, Johnston may be more well-known as a successful coach and GM for the Penguins in the 1980’s and 90’s?

Last but not least, is Gilles Gilbert, the acrobatic French-Canadian goalie with the memorable flow. He played in Boston from 1974-1980, totaling 277 games for the B’s, winning 155 of them. His GAA was 2.95, and he had a save percentage of .890 over that time. I remember Gilbert as being a key component in net for the highly effective “Lunch Pail AC” teams. Despite their success in the regular season, those teams came up short in the playoffs. Unfortunately, my most lasting memory of Gilbert will be of him falling to the ice after he gave up Guy Lafleur’s game-tying goal as time was running out in Game Seven of the 1979 Stanley Cup Semifinals. That goal is not the reason I am going with Eddie Johnston as the third-best to wear number one for the Bruins…but it didn’t help either.

So, there you have it, the three best players to wear the number one for the Bruins are Tiny Thompson in first, followed by Frank Brimsek as a close second, and Eddie Johnston as a distant third. I hope you enjoyed this look back in B’s history. Next up on the agenda is the number six, where there should be a lot more debate for the title.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 187 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Top Ten Greatest Canadian Boston Bruins of All-Time: #5 – #1

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

While Americans have the Fourth of July, us Canadians celebrate Canada Day today, July 1st. In honour of Canada’s 153rd birthday, I decided to rank the greatest Boston Bruins players that were born in the Great White North. If you missed players ten through six, I highly suggest you click HERE. If you’ve already read the previous installment, we can officially move on to the remainder of the Top Ten Greatest Canadian Boston Bruins of All-Time. So without further ado, let’s dive right into this!

5 – Patrice Bergeron (2003 – Present)

The only current player on this list, Patrice Bergeron is one of the greatest players to ever play for the Boston Bruins franchise. At 34-years-old, Bergeron has the 5th-most goals in Bruins history with 352, the 5th-most assists with 517 and is 6th in Boston Bruins history for most points with 869. Bergeron is also one of only six players to play 1000 games for the franchise, joining Ray Bourque, Johnny Bucyk, Don Sweeney, Wayne Cashman, and Zdeno Chara.

While Bergeron is near the top of most of the statistical leaderboards within the organization, it is not the only reason Bergeron will go down in the history books and will likely have a place in the Hockey Hall-of-Fame when his career is all said and done. Patrice Bergeron is one of, if not the greatest defensive forwards of all-time. The Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec, Canada native has won four Frank J. Selke Trophies – tying him with Bob Gainey for the most in NHL history.

In addition, Patrice Bergeron is apart of the illustrious Triple Gold Club – having won an Olympic Gold (2010, 2014), a World Championship Gold (2004), and a Stanley Cup (2011). Bergeron also continues to be one of the most well-respected players in the National Hockey League – putting respect, class, and sportsmanship before anything else and he is a perfect representative of the Boston Bruins organization.

4 – Johnny Bucyk (1955 – 1978)

Quite possibly the embodiment of the Boston Bruins organization – Johnny “Chief” Bucyk, born in Edmonton, Alberta on May 12th, 1935, played 21 seasons for the Boston Bruins from 1957-58 all the way to 1977-78. During that span, Bucyk scored 556 goals (1st in Bruins history), 794 assists (2nd in Bruins history), and 1339 points (2nd in Bruins history) all in 1436 career regular-season games (2nd in Bruins history).

From the 1967-68 season to the 1976-77 season, Bucyk scored at least 20 goals including a 51-65-110 campaign in 1970-71 at the age of 35. A two-time Stanley Cup winner, Bucyk goes down as one of the best Boston Bruins simply for the time spent in the organization. Even after his retirement at the end of the ’77/’78 season, Bucyk worked with the Bruins’ public relations team as well as doing some colour commentary. Today, The Chief is still an ambassador for the team and just concluded his 62nd season as apart of the Boston Bruins.

John Bucyk’s #9 was retired immediately in 1978 and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall-of-Fame not long after in 1981. Bucyk finished his NHL career with 556-813-1369 numbers, two Stanley Cups, two Lady Byng trophies, and was named to two All-Star teams.

3 – Phil Esposito (1963 – 1981)

Phil Esposito, born in Sault St. Marie, Ontario, was one of the greatest scorers in not only Boston Bruins history, but NHL history at the time of his playing career. Esposito’s tenure with the Bruins took place for nine seasons, playing in 625 games while scoring an incredible 459-553-1012 numbers during that short time.

Esposito once held the NHL record for most goals scored in a single season with 76 goals in the 1970-71 campaign and while that record would later be passed by Wayne Gretzky, it’s just a small sample size of how talented Esposito was in Boston and how he was a massive piece to Boston’s two Stanley Cup victories in 1970 and 1972. Esposito was a ten-time All-Star, two-time Hart Trophy winner, five-time Art Ross winner, two-time Pearson winner, and was apart of the Hockey Hall-of-Fame Class of 1984.  As a member of the Bruins, Esposito scored 40 or more goals in seven consecutive seasons and 50 or more goals in five straight seasons.

At the international level, Esposito was a big piece to Team Canada in the infamous 1972 Summit Series, finishing the eight-game series against the Soviet Union with the most points with thirteen and tied for most goals with seven. Phil also helped Canada win the 1976 Canada Cup and represented his country in the 1977 IIHF World Championships where Canada finished 4th.

Phil Esposito ranks 2nd in franchise history for goals, 4th in franchise history for assists and 3rd in franchise history in points while not even hitting the 700-game mark as a Boston Bruin. Throughout his entire NHL career combined, Phil Esposito scored 717-873-1590 numbers in 1282 games played putting him 10th in the NHL for points and 6th in the league’s history for goals. The Bruins retired his #7 in 1987, creating one of the most infamous moments in Bruins history with the player who is next on this list.

2 – Raymond Bourque (1979 – 2001)

Born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Ray Bourque is one of the greatest defensemen to ever play the sport of hockey. Throughout 21 incredible seasons as a member of the Boston Bruins, Bourque amassed 395 goals and 1111 assists for 1506 points. As of the current day, Bourque is the franchise leader in games played (1518), assists, and points.

As mentioned above, Bourque was involved in one of the best moments in Boston Bruins history. As the Bruins were set to raise Phil Esposito’s #7 up into the rafters, Ray Bourque (who took the #7 after Espo’s retirement), skated over to Esposito, took off his #7 sweater and handed it to Esposito. Under the original sweater was Bourque’s new #77 which would later be retired by the Bruins after Bourque’s own career ended.

Out of the 21 seasons in Boston, he was named an All-Star eighteen times and won the James Norris Trophy as the league’s best defensemen five times. He also won the team’s scoring title on five occasions which included four 90-plus-point performances. Bourque was also well-known around the NHL for his blistering accurate shot, winning eight Accuracy Shooting competitions at the NHL All-Star festivities.

While Bourque never won a Stanley Cup in Boston, he did win a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001, further cementing himself as one of the greatest ever at his position. He is still the NHL leader for points as a defenceman and was inducted into the Hockey Hall-of-Fame in 2004.

1 – Bobby Orr (1966 – 1979)

If you ask anyone to name one legend of the Boston Bruins, 99% of the time they will respond with “Bobby Orr”. Born in Parry Sound, Ontario, Bobby Orr is the greatest Boston Bruin player ever – let alone players born in Canada. While his career was unfortunately cut short due to injuries, his time with the Boston Bruins proved him to be one of the best players the NHL has ever seen.

In 631 regular-season games for the Boston Bruins, Bobby Orr scored 264 goals and 624 assists for 888 points. In only those ten seasons, he won eight straight James Norris trophies as the league’s best defenceman, three Hart trophies, two Art Ross trophies making him the only blueliner to ever win a scoring title, two Conn Smythe trophies as the Most Valuable Player of the playoffs in Boston’s 1970 and 1972 Stanley Cup wins. In addition, Orr was named as an All-Star nine times and was the first NHL player to not only reach 100 assists in a single season but was also the first NHL player to record six-consecutive 100-point campaigns – a feat he accomplished between 1969-70 and 1974-75.

Bobby Orr is also extremely well-known for his infamous “Flying Goal” in Game Four of the Stanley Cup Finals against the St. Louis Blues. The photo of Bobby flying through the air after scoring the game-winning goal that won the Bruins the Stanley Cup in 1970 is synonymous with Boston Bruins culture and every Bruin fan around the globe is proud he was a member of the Boston Bruins.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Ray Lussier/Boston Herald American via AP)

Bobby Orr changed the game of hockey forever. The way he controlled the game with such finesse, skill, and talent as a defenceman was never seen before and has never been replicated to that degree even now. A true athlete that altered the sport of hockey for the better and is truly in the conversation as one of the best hockey players in the history of the National Hockey League.

And with that, the Top Ten Greatest Canadian Boston Bruins of All-Time is now complete. Do you agree with my list? I’d love to hear your thoughts via my Twitter (@tkdmaxbjj). On behalf of the Black n Gold Hockey Podcast crew, Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians!

Information and Statistics courtesy of hockey-reference.com, hhof.com, eliteprospects.com, quanthockey.com, and nhl.com.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Top Ten Greatest Canadian Boston Bruins of All-Time: #10 – #6

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

Today, July 1st, 2020 is Canada’s 153rd birthday – more commonly known as Canada Day. In celebration of this historical day, I decided to take a look back on some of the greatest players from the Great White North that dawned that infamous Spoked-B sweater of the Boston Bruins. This list was incredibly difficult to make, but it could make for some fun discussions. Without further ado, let’s dive right into the Top Ten Greatest Canadian Boston Bruins of All-Time!

10 – Eddie Shore (1926 – 1940)

Born in Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan on November 25th, 1902, Eddie Shore spent the early years of his life on a horse ranch working hard labor – breaking in ponies, herding stock and hauling grain on the daily. While that may seem like a useless piece of information, those early days helped pave the way for Shore who became known as one of the most physical players during his era.

Immediately at the beginning of his career, Shore’s bruising style controlled the game and in the 1928-29 season, he led the Bruins to first place in the American Division and helped them go undefeated in the playoffs en route to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 1929. Shore continued his strong play throughout his career, winning the Hart Trophy in 1933, 1935, 1936, 1938 becoming the first defenceman in NHL history to win four Hart trophies and as of 2020, is still the only defenceman to have won that many times.

On December 22nd, 1933, one of Shore’s most infamous moments occurred. Eddie Shore hit Toronto Maple Leafs’ forward Ace Bailey from behind, causing him to go headfirst into the ice. Bailey was knocked unconscious and his career was ultimately ended right then and there. In retaliation for the hit, Leafs player Red Homer punched Shore in the face, causing Shore to fall onto the ice as well, resulting in seven stitches. The first large-scale benefit game in NHL history took place for Bailey in 1934 which led to Shore and Bailey shaking hands, one of the best showcases of respect in hockey.

Later on in his career, Shore helped bring the Bruins back to championship glory, winning the franchise’s second Stanley Cup – ten years after the first one – in 1939. Shore’s tenacious style was a huge factor in the victory. Shore retired after the 1939-40 season. He played 14 seasons with Boston, scoring 284 points in 551 games and two Stanley Cups. Eddie Shore was inducted into the Hockey Hall-of-Fame in 1947 and his #2 was retired by the Bruins that same year.

9 – Wayne Cashman (1964 – 1983)

Wayne Cashman, born in Kingston, Ontario on June 24th, 1945, played for the Black and Gold for 17 seasons, starting out in the 1964-65 campaign where he skated in one game. Cashman was a solid player for the Bruins, skating on a line with Phil Esposito and Ken Hodge – the line that set an NHL record at the time with 336 points combined. During the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run in 1970, Cashman scored 9 points in 14 games.

During the 1970-71 campaign, Cashman scored 21-58-77 totals in 77 games played for the Bruins, setting a new career-high in points that would later be broken in 1974 when he posted an 84-point season. However, Cashman was never known for his personal statistics. “Cash” was the tough, physical player that battled hard in the boards for pucks and was there to stand up for his teammates – especially Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito. Teammate Derek Sanderson said the following about Cashman:

“You could see a guy go into a corner after the puck, and just before he got to it, he stopped and flinched a bit when he saw Cash. That’s when you knew you got him on the ropes,” – Derek Sanderson 

Cashman won a second Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 1972 and went on to play over 1,000 games with the franchise, including the final six seasons as captain, before retiring from playing in 1983 – the final player from the Original Six to retire. Following his playing career, Cashman spent 16 years in various coaching positions throughout the NHL. He ended his coaching career as an assistant with the Bruins in 2006. Wayne Cashman scored 277-516-793 numbers in 1027 games – all for Boston.

8 – Cecil “Tiny” Thompson (1928 – 1940)

Cecil “Tiny” Thompson, born in Sandon, British Columbia, was another member of the early Boston Bruins and is known today as one of the best goaltenders to play for the organization. Throughout eleven seasons in Boston (and two in Detroit) Thompson accumulated 284 wins, 194 losses, 75 ties, and 84 shutouts throughout 553 career NHL games.

As of July 1st, 2020, Thompson is all over the Boston Bruins record books. He ranks second in games played (behind Tuukka Rask), second in wins (behind Tuukka Rask), first in career goals-against-average (1.99), and first in shutouts (74). Thompson’s overall 81 shutouts (7 with Detroit) rank 6th in NHL history. Thompson was apart of Boston’s first Stanley Cup back in 1929 and won a total of four Vezina trophies as the best goaltender in the NHL. He was also named as an All-Star on four occasions as well.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)

Cecil is also known for being one of the first netminders to perfect and popularize the technique of catching the puck in his glove – known today as a glove save. Before then, it was not common for goalies to grab the puck, but his skill allowed him to do so, paving the way for future players. Also, he was the first NHL goaltender to record an assist back in the 1935-36 season.

Tiny Thompson retired from the National Hockey League after the 1939-40 season. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall-of-Fame in 1959.

Note: It was a true toss-up for me to put either Thompson or Gerry Cheevers. Due to the statistics being slightly in favor of Thompson, I decided to put him instead. However, there is a true argument for Cheevers due to his impact on the Bruins winning the Cup in 1970 and 1972 as well as the sentimental value he holds with Boston Bruins fans. 

7 – Rick Middleton (1974 – 1988)

Rick “Nifty” Middleton was born in Toronto, Ontario back on December 4th, 1953, and is the most recent player to have their number retired by the Boston Bruins as his #16 went into the TD Garden rafters in November 2018. During his 1005-game NHL career (881 with the Bruins), Middleton was one of the better scorers of his generation. As of July 1st, 2020, Middleton is fourth in Bruins all-time points and 3rd all-time in Bruins goals.

From 1978 to 1982, Middleton led the Bruins in points and also led the Bruins in goals for six consecutive seasons. To this day, Middleton’s 19 points in a single playoff series against the Buffalo Sabres still holds as an NHL record and has helped contribute to him being 5th in the Boston Bruins organization for playoff scoring. The reason for “Nifty” being so dangerous? He was one of the best one-on-one players in the league during his career and former teammate Wayne Cashman confirmed that:

“He was the most exciting one-on-one player in hockey when he was in his prime”- former teammate Wayne Cashman 

In 1005 career regular-season games, Rick Middleton scored 448 goals and 540 assists for 988 points in addition to his 100 points in 111 career playoff games. While the prestigious Stanley Cup managed to stay out of his grasps in his 14-year career, Middleton goes down as one of the best Bruins of his generation and in my opinion, deserves a spot in the Hockey Hall-of-Fame.

6 – Cam Neely – (1983 – 1996)

A native of Comox, Britsh Columbia, Cam Neely is widely regarded as one of the greatest “power-forwards” in NHL history. In fact, Neely was essentially the first player to be referred to as a power forward in the league and it is genuinely the only proper description of his playstyle. Neely began his NHL career with his home province team of the Vancouver Canucks but only played three seasons before being traded to the Bruins in 1986.

From then, Neely went on to play 525 regular-season games across ten seasons with the Boston Bruins scoring a total of 344 goals and 246 assists for 590 points in the Spoked-B sweater. Neely led the Bruins in goals for seven of those ten campaigns with the help of three 50-goal years (1989-90, 1990-91, 1993-94). Cam’s 55 goals in the ’93/’94 season is still the Bruins’ record for most goals by a winger in a single season and he is the leading playoff goal-scorer in franchise history with 55 goals in 86 postseason contests.

Cam Neely was named an All-Star on four occasions and won the Masterton Trophy in 1993-94 for dedication to the sport of hockey after he scored an incredible 50 goals in only 44 games played after missing a large majority of the previous two seasons due to hip, knee, and thigh injuries. Only Wayne Gretzky has scored 50 goals in fewer games in a single season – showing how dangerous of a threat Cam Neely was offensively.

Unfortunately, injuries forced Neely to retire from playing in 1996 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall-of-Fame in 2005 – one year after his #8 was retired by the Boston Bruins franchise. Cam Neely ended his career with 395 goals, 299 assists, and 694 points in 726 games along with 55-32-87 numbers in 86 playoff games. Today, Cam is the President of the Boston Bruins.

That does it for players ten through six on my list of the Top Ten Greatest Canadian Boston Bruins of All-Time! For the remaining players on this list, make sure to check out blackngoldhockey.com as it will be released on July 1st as well.

Information and Statistics courtesy of hockey-reference.com, nhl.com Bruins honored numbers, quanthockey.com, originalhockeyhalloffame.com, and the hhof.com.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Should The Bruins Retire Tim Thomas’ Number?

Tim Thomas

( Photo Credit: AP/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward )

By Joe Chrzanowski  |  Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19

Whenever hockey fans get together to discuss whether a certain player’s number should be retired, the conversation is bound to get hot and heavy. When that player happens to be a goaltender, the discussion seems to be even more heated than it normally is for some reason? I’m not sure whether it is as simple as because goalies wear such a limited range of jersey numbers (so people don’t want any retired) or because goaltending statistics seem so much harder to quantify than skaters who play out of the net?

Whatever the reason, there are only 17 goalie numbers that have been retired in the history of the NHL (Patrick Roy’s #33 is retired twice, for both the Canadiens and the Avalanche). The Bruins are the only Original Six franchise that does not have at least one netminder’s number hanging in the rafters. Toronto (Broda and Bower), New York (Giacomin and Richter), and Montreal (Roy and Plante), have two each. Detroit (Sawchuk) and Chicago (Esposito) have one apiece.

In recent months, with the NHL season suspended, many sports channels have taken to replaying past series and games in order to fill in the gaps left by the lack of hockey. NESN was no exception and they recently replayed the Bruins memorable Stanley Cup playoff run in 2011, highlighting Boston’s first championship since 1972. There were many key contributors during the run to the Cup, but the most valuable was deemed to be Tim Thomas. In 25 games, Thomas posted a .940 Save Percentage, a 1.98 GAA, and had four shutouts en route to winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

The recent re-airings of these Cup classics have people talking about Thomas again and many have brought up the question of whether or not Thomas’ #30 jersey is worthy of being raised to the Garden rafters. On the surface, it would appear that perhaps a goalie like Gerry Cheevers is just as/more deserving, and what about Tuukka Rask? Let’s take a deeper look at Thomas and some of the other potential candidates the B’s have to offer.

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( Photo Credit: Brian Babineau/NHL via Getty Images )

Thomas is a pretty familiar story by now to most B’s fans. He played hockey for the University of Vermont (along with fellow future-NHLer Martin St. Louis), and was drafted in the 9th Round by the Quebec Nordiques, but was never signed by them. From 1997-98 through 2005-06 Thomas kicked around a number of leagues including the IHL, AHL, SHL, and Finnish Liiga before playing in the NHL for Boston. His season for Jokerit during the lockout in 2004-05 was what likely catapulted him to finally getting a legitimate NHL opportunity. With a lot of NHL talent playing in Finland that year, Thomas dominated the goaltender position playing 54 games with a 1.58 GAA and .946 save percentage during the regular season. In the playoffs, he was nearly as good with a 1.83 GAA and .938 save percentage, leading his team to the finals. 

It must have been quite a transition in 2005-06 for Thomas to go from a European powerhouse to one of the worst teams in the NHL when he became a regular in Boston, and eventually took over the starting job from teammate Andrew Raycroft. The Bruins finished as the 5th worst team that year and 8th from the bottom the following season. Despite the horrible team in front of him, Thomas put up respectable numbers. The 2007-08 season would bring a number of changes, including new head coach Claude Julien, whose defensive style was much more “goalie-friendly” than the prior regime. Thomas’ stats would reflect that as the B’s returned to the playoffs. 

From that year through 2011-12 (his last with the Bruins), Thomas was a monster in net for Boston, winning a Stanley Cup, a Conn Smythe, and two Vezina Trophies as the NHL’s best goaltender. He was, without a doubt, the league’s best during that period of time. During his eight years with the B’s, he played in 378 regular-season games, winning 196 with a 2.48 GAA and .921 save percentage. Generally speaking, those are fantastic numbers, and even more impressive when you add the hardware. 

The knock against Thomas (when you are talking about retiring his number) is and has always been his longevity. He did not become a regular in the NHL until the age of 31, and while he made up for his lack of quantity in the league with a great deal of quality, there are people who will always hold this against him. If you want to compare him to some peers, he’s middle to the low end of the pack for NHL games played. Of course, that was out of his control to a large extent due to circumstances. 

The two names that I hear mentioned the most in comparison to Thomas when it comes to potentially retiring numbers are Gerry Cheevers and Tuukka Rask. Of the two, the far easier comparison is Rask, because he played in the same era as Thomas. It is extremely difficult to compare players from two different eras and even more so when it comes to the goaltender position because the position has evolved more than any other in the game in my opinion. 

In these situations, I think the only fair thing to do is to look at the player’s stats and rankings among their peers of that era. In my opinion, this is a far more relevant way of looking at it, as opposed to just comparing the two players, regardless of when they played. Cheevers played a total of 418 games (171 in the 60’s, 247 in the ’70s) over an NHL career that spanned 13 years (compared to nine for Thomas). If this seems a little low, it’s probably because Cheesy left the B’s for four years in the mid-’70s to play in the newly formed WHA, registering nearly 200 games there. 

Gerry-Cheevers-Bruins

( Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images )

When you dig a little deeper, Cheevers ranked 14th for games played in the 1960s. His 2.97 GAA  was good for 19th place, while his .907 save percentage placed him 18th. If we do the same for the 1970s, he is 23rd for games played, 14th for goals-against average (2.97), and 23rd for save percentage (.895). Personally, I tend to look more closely at the save percentage numbers because goals against can be reflective of the strength of the team in front of a goalie. To be perfectly honest, before I started this article, I expected Cheever’s stats to be better than they were, relative to his era. In his defense, if he had stayed with the Bruins, the four years he was in the WHA likely would have been some of his best and bolstered his numbers considerably. For intangibles, Cheevers has two Stanley Cups, including the first in 29 years for the B’s in 1970. 

Thomas’ teammate Tuukka Rask is a much easier comparison when it comes to the numbers. Through this year, Rask’s career has spanned 13 seasons and he has played in 536 games (50 in the 2000s and 486 in the 2010s), surpassing both Cheevers and Thomas. His statistics are impressive when compared to his peers. Just looking at this decade, Rask is 1st in GAA (100 games or more), with a 2.29 mark and 2nd for save percentage at .921 over a span of almost 500 games. The only black mark over this period (and it’s huge for some) is that he has been unable to lead Boston to a Cup as a starter, losing in the Finals in both 2013 and 2019. 

If we do the same for Tim Thomas at his stats for his era, they are very good for the most part. His 2.61 GAA in the 2000s was 35th among goalies with more than 100 games played. I think this number is largely reflective of the two years the Bruins were awful when he became a regular. His save percentage (.918) is much better placing 8th. In the 2010’s his 2.38 GAA is good for 4th and his .924 save percentage is 1st (ahead of Rask). 

Boston Bruins v Carolina Hurricanes - Game Three

( Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images )

We have looked at three goalies and to me, they represent three different situations. Cheevers has the worst stats by far among his peers, but he has the most Cups with two and has four prime years missing to the WHA. Thomas has very good numbers in his era, along with a lot of hardware (one Cup, one Conn Smythe, and two Vezinas). Rask has the best statistics of the three men, also has a Vezina Trophy, but lacks a Stanley Cup. 

I can see why some Bruins fans think that Cheevers number 30 should be retired (he also wore 31 earlier in his career), despite the lack of great stats. I can also see why a lot of B’s faithful think that Thomas’ number 30 should be retired (obviously problematic) despite his lack of longevity. This may be somewhat controversial, but I don’t believe either of those guys should have their numbers raised to the rafters. If I had to choose one, it would be Rask, who has been statistically the most dominant goalie of this decade, despite him not having a Cup. I say this because in both playoff runs where he went to the finals, Rask has been nothing short of phenomenal (1.88 GAA, .940 Save% in 2013 and 2.02/.934 in 2019). He could not close either series out, but the Bruins don’t get there if not for Rask in both instances. Agree? Disagree? That’s why discussing sports is so much fun.

( I want to thank both QuantHockey and Hockey Reference for their invaluable statistics)

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Bruins Will Have Challenging Offseason With New Salary Cap Reports

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( PHOTO CREDIT: Stephanie Gois on Pinterest )

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

With the NHL on pause due to the current COVID-19 pandemic that is essentially putting the entire world on hold, there have been a large number of questions regarding the future of the 2019-2020 regular-season as well as the subsequent postseason and how it may have an impact on the 2020-2021 campaign.

Today, April 17th, 2020, St. Louis Blues reporter Andy Strickland tweeted that the players of the league were informed on a call that the salary cap will remain the exact same for the upcoming season, flatlining at $81.5 million. Strickland went on to say that there were many ideas and scenarios presented to the players, including this one, and there are “several variables” that played a part in this decision.

Going back to earlier in the season, on March 4th, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly announced that the salary cap would increase from the current $81.5 million to anywhere from $84 million to $88.2 million. This, of course, was before the COVID-19 pandemic, and it created a sense of security for teams around the league who have numerous players with expiring contracts come July 1st. One of those teams that would have benefited greatly from a raise in salary cap? The Boston Bruins.

Below is the full list of Boston Bruins players that have expiring deals come July 1st, 2020 as per CapFriendly:

NHL Roster:

  • F Anders Bjork – RFA
  • F Jake DeBrusk – RFA
  • F Joakim Nordstrom – UFA
  • D Torey Krug – UFA
  • D Zdeno Chara – UFA
  • D Kevan Miller – UFA
  • D Matt Grzelcyk – RFA
  • G Jaroslav Halak – UFA

AHL Roster (Providence):

  • F Brett Ritchie – RFA
  • F Zach Senyshyn – RFA
  • F Karson Kuhlman – RFA
  • F Ryan Fitzgerald – UFA G6
  • F Brendan Gaunce – RFA
  • F Peter Cehlarik – RFA
  • D Jakub Zboril – RFA
  • D Wiley Sherman – RFA
  • D Alex Petrovic – UFA
  • G Daniel Vladar – RFA
  • G Maxime Lagacé – UFA

For simplicity’s sake, in this article, we will only take a look at the eight players on the current Boston Bruins NHL roster and not the ones in the American Hockey League as the majority of them can be placed on a qualifying offer. According to @bruinscapspace on Twitter, the B’s will have roughly $20 million in available cap space to sign players this offseason.

Starting off, it is very likely the Bruins do not re-sign goaltender Jaroslav Halak. At 34-years-of-age, Halak is making $2.75 million, but with his impressive performances in both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 campaigns, Halak has proven that he deserves a pay raise, and he can very well be a solid starting goaltender for a franchise who’s looking for a more experienced netminder. With funds running dry and the potential for goalies such as Daniel Vladar to become the new backup goaltender behind Tuukka Rask, it makes the most sense to move on from Halak.

To add to my releases, I do not see the Bruins re-signing forward Joakim Nordstrom. The 28-year-old has been making $1 million for each of the past two seasons and has been a solid depth player for the B’s, but it’s a spot that can be replaced by a depth player from the Baby Bruins. His short tenure with the Black and Gold is valued and appreciated, but it is, unfortunately, time to move on.

This brings us to the two restricted free-agent forwards – Jake DeBrusk and Anders Bjork. DeBrusk has been a consistent 40-point scorer (he was only five points away from hitting 40 again this season) and last season in his sophomore campaign, scored 27 goals. Again, I look to @bruinscapspace on Twitter, who created a simple graphic on some comparable contracts for DeBrusk.

The comparables listed make it appear that DeBrusk could be looking at an average cap hit of somewhere around the $3.5 million number on likely a three or four-year contract. At a young age, DeBrusk has been a good top-six winger for the Bruins but has also faced times of inconsistency throughout his tenure. Those inconsistencies are what brings his salary cap number down. I have DeBrusk re-signing with the Bruins on a three-year, $3.5 million AAV contract. 

Anders Bjork is the other RFA forward on the Bruins roster that will return. Bjork is finishing up his entry-level contract and has played 108 regular-season games for the B’s, scoring 14-20-34 numbers during that time. Bjork has 19 points in 58 games this year, meaning he won’t ask for a large salary. For a comparable, the Penguins re-signed Zach Aston-Reese when he was 24 (Bjork is 23) for $1 million AAV for two years. Aston-Reese had a 0.38 points-per-game average in 59 games, whereas Bjork has a 0.31 points-per-game average in 108 games played. I have Anders Bjork re-signing with the Bruins on a two-year, $1.25 million contract. 

Now, the defencemen. With a doubt, the blueline of the Bruins has been the number one talking point in regards to the offseason with powerhouse defender Torey Krug and captain Zdeno Chara each on expiring deals as well as the young offensive Matt Grzelcyk and the injury-riddled Kevan Miller. With today’s news of the new salary cap, it appears to be unrealistic for all four to re-up their deals.

Earlier this month, General Manager Don Sweeney said that if the NHL season does resume this year, that defenceman Kevan Miller will likely not be healthy enough to return to the team. However, in an article by 985TheSportsHub.com writer, Ty Anderson, Sweeney said, “Our intentions are for Kevan to be 100 percent healthy so he can resume when we start the next season. We know Kevan is a UFA, so we will entertain the opportunity to bring Kevan back, and he will also entertain whether or not he wants to be back.”

Injuries have prevented Miller from playing in over a full calendar year, and for that reason, he is expendable in my eyes and I believe the Bruins will not re-sign him prior to the July 1st deadline.

At 26-years-old, Charlestown, Massachusetts native Matt Grzelcyk is the future of the Bruins defensive core and in my humble opinion, is a must re-sign. In 68 games this year, Grzelcyk has 4-17-21 numbers, a new career-high in goals, assists, and points. Grzelcyk, like Krug, is a 5-foot-9, left-handed defenceman who is primarily known for his puck handling and offensive capabilities. With room to improve as well, Grzelcyk is one of those players teams would love to have on their backend. I have the Bruins re-signing Matt Grzelcyk on a two-year, $2.5 million contract. 

Zdeno Chara has been the captain of the Boston Bruins since the 2006-07 season and ever since, has been the backbone of the leadership core in every way possible, guiding the way for countless rookies on the roster to make their mark on the league. However, at 43-years-old, Father Time is going to catch up on Chara eventually. Retirement is very likely around the corner but I doubt it happens this offseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Zdeno still averaged 21:01 minutes on the ice this year, proving he is still capable, so I predict he re-joins the Bruins organization. The only way this happens is on a one-year, $1.5 million contract. 

Finally, Torey Krug. Krug is the quarterback of the power-play and the driver of offense on the blueline. At 29-years-old, the Michigan native has 337 career points in 523 regular-season games and put up 9-40-49 totals in 61 games prior to the pause. With the signings above, the Bruins would have $11.25 remaining in available cap space. Krug has made it clear he would rather remain a Bruin and the message seems to be the same on the management side as well. The Bruins could re-sign Krug on a seven-year, $7 million contract, leaving just around $4 million in cap room to get depth players or even a backup goalie if they feel Vladar cannot take the role.

Before we conclude, it is fair to note that comparisons of other players league-wide are nearly impossible given the worldwide circumstances. Times are not the same whatsoever so these numbers can fluctuate entirely. In addition, the Bruins could pull off a trade if they so feel necessary to free up more cap space or pick up another piece heading into the upcoming season.

Things could be a lot worse for the Boston Bruins, but with the talent in Providence and the strong depth, it makes more players a bit more expendable. However, predictions like these are very difficult to predict and these upcoming months will be fascinating to follow.

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A Look At Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara On His 42nd Birthday

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter:  @yanlatz

The Bruins team is full of wise, experienced veterans in their lineup and Zdeno Chara is probably the wisest and most experienced of them. On Monday, March 18, Chara turned 42 and continues to lead the Bruins with no end in sight to his outstanding career in the NHL.

At Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena, the team brought Chara a birthday cake and sang him Happy Birthday. Although he might not have eaten it, the gesture was fun and thoughtful of the Bruins coaches, players, and management for one of the greatest Bruin of all time.

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Zdeno Chara was born on March 18, 1977, in Trencin, Czechoslovakia. He was originally persuaded by many in his home country to play basketball because of his height. However, he continued playing hockey and was drafted in the third round 56th overall by the New York Islanders in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft in St. Louis.

Chara spent his first year in North America in the WHL with the Prince George Cougars playing close to 50 games. The following season he split time between the Islanders squad and the then Kentucky Thoroughblades of the American Hockey League. Then, ironically, before he came to the Bruins, he spent time in Lowell, Massachusetts playing for the Lowell Lock Monsters, who was the New York Islanders AHL affiliate at the time during the 1998-1999 season.

After 4 seasons on Long Island and 4 seasons with the Ottawa Senators, Chara signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract with the Bruins on July 1, 2006, and was also named the team captain.

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Standing at 6 foot 9 inches tall, Chara is the tallest player to ever play in the National Hockey League and has yet to give up that title. Much like his body type, his play on the ice is monstrous. Throughout his career with the Bruins, he has been a strong, shut-down defenseman that can occasionally put the puck in the net with his record-breaking 108.8 mph slap shot. His dominant play has always given his coaches the confidence to play him against the league’s top lines and top players. He averages 24:20 time-on-ice for his career and even this season, at age 42, he is averaging 21:02 time-on-ice for the Bruins defense. From his shutdown play to versatility on the ice, Chara achieved the leagues highest defenseman honor with the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best d-man in 2008-2009. Chara also was an integral part of the Bruins bringing Boston its first Stanley Cup in nearly 40 years when Chara lifted the Cup the highest it had ever been lifted in 2011.

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Zdeno Chara has just turned 42 years old, and many fans have criticized him for his play in the past three years or more. Although he will never be as dominant as he was earlier in his career, he is still a force on the Bruins blue-line. Just one part of his importance with the Bruins for the rest of his career will be his mentorship for young Bruins defenseman. When Brandon Carlo stepped into the league in the 2016-2017 season, he was paired up with Chara for most of his rookie year, and now we have seen Carlo be one of the Bruins best defenseman this year. We have also seen Chara paired up with Charlie McAvoy as he was transitioning from College hockey to the big leagues and both have learned valuable on and off ice lessons from Big Zee. He knows what it takes to win mentally and physically and how to keep his body healthy to continue to perform at a high-level night in night out in which he can teach young defenseman valuable lessons.

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No doubt that Chara is headed to the Hockey Hall of Fame when he does decide to hang them up, and we could even see #33 hanging from the rafters at TD Garden. Chara is one of the most influential pieces for the Bruins this season and postseason both on and off the ice and has proven to be a fierce competitor who has put his blood, sweat, and tears into the spoked B for over a decade. Happy Birthday, Zdeno!

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Can You Count From 1-99 Using Just Bruins Players Throughout History?

Photo Credit: The Hockey News

By: Spencer Fascetta | Follow Me on Twitter @PuckNerdHockey

Short answer? No. Not tremendously surprising, but still, you can get pretty close. I have highlighted the best player to wear each number throughout the team’s history below. Please note that this is a matter of personal opinion, and I took into account a player’s entire career when determining the best player to wear the number. There are a few numbers that have never been worn, and a few that only one player has worn. I have added commentary on some of the more interesting picks, as well as some of the more controversial ones.

*Indicates the number is retired in honor of the player

^Indicates the player is the only one to have worn the number in the history of the franchise

1) Giles Gilbert (1974-1980)

*^2) Eddie Shore (1926-1940)

Hockey Hall of Famer. Only one to ever wear the number with the B’s. ‘Nuff said.

*^3) Lionel Hitchman (1922-1934)

*4) Bobby Orr (1967-1976)

You might have heard of the first offensive defenseman? Oh, you haven’t? Look him up. He was pretty good.

*5) Dit Clapper (1927-1947)

OK, they should’ve retired this guy’s number based on his name alone. But his numbers were pretty good too.

Image result for joe thornton rookie

Photo Credit: Getty Images

6) Joe Thornton (1998-2000)

I bet many younger B’s fans remember Jumbo Joe in his Boston days. But how many knew he wore a number other than his iconic #19?

*7) Phil Esposito (1967-1976)

Did I mention the ’70s Bruins were kind of good?

*8) Cam Neely (1987-1996)

I may have issues with his management career, but not much was wrong with his on-ice career. The man could BURY the puck on cue.

*9) John Bucyk (1958-1978)

Bucyk is often the forgotten man from the ’70s juggernaut, but he’s a Hockey Hall of Famer for a reason.

10) Jean Ratelle (1976-1981)

He isn’t known for his exploits in the Black and Gold, but Ratelle was one of the more underrated stars of the ’70s.

11) PJ Axelsson (1998-2009)

12) Adam Oates (1992-1997)

Plenty of competition for this one, but the ridiculous offensive numbers he posted in the mid-90s ultimately took the cake.

13) Ken Linesman (1985-1990)

The original rat, Linesman, did more with his mouth than he did with the puck, but DANG was he good at it.

14) Ace Bailey (1969-1973)

*15) Milt Schmidt (1951-1955)

16) Derek Sanderson (1968-1974)

17) Milan Lucic (2008-2015)

Looch will always be a fan favorite for his handiwork – both with the puck and his fists.

18) Barry Pederson (1981)

19) Joe Thornton (2001-2006)

Yes, Joe is on here twice. No, I don’t think Tyler Seguin is better than him. Thornton is a Hall of Famer. Seguin’s not there yet.

20) Dallas Smith (1965-1977)

21) Ted Donato (1993-1999)

22) Willie O’Ree (1958-1961)

He didn’t put up stand out numbers, but the newest Hall of Famer on the list did so much more for the game than score goals.

23) Terry O’Reilly (1972)

*24) Terry O’Reilly (1973-1985)

25) Andy Brickley (1989-1992)

26) Blake Wheeler (2009-2011)

If only Peter Chiarelli didn’t trade his good players…

27) Dave Christian (1989-1991)

Did you know Christian was one of the more successful members of the Miracle on Ice team of 1980? I didn’t.

28) Mark Recchi (2009-2011)

He brought us a Cup in 2011, and he’s in the Hall of Fame.

Image result for rick middleton

Photo Credit: CBS Sports Boston

29) Rick Middleton (1976-1988)

His number goes to the rafters this week. The pretty clear winner here.

30) Gerry Cheevers (1969-1980)

31) Jacques Plante (1973)

Wait – Jacques Plante wore the spoked B?

32) Don Sweeney (1989-2003)

Hey look, our GM played for the team!

33) Zdeno Chara (2007-present)

Big Z will see his name in the Hall and his number in the rafters very soon. First, he’d have to retire, and I’m not sure I see the android known as Chara breaking down for good for a while.

34) Geoff Courtnall (1984)

35) Andy Moog (1988-1993)

36) Dave Reid (1985-1988)

37) Patrice Bergeron (2004-present)

One of, if not THE greatest defensive forward in the history of the NHL will be a Bruin for life, captain when Chara retires, and will also see his number in the rafters and his name in the Hall. Classy individual, on and off the ice.

38) Dave Andreychuk (2000)

39) Greg Johnston (1986-1990)

40) Tuukka Rask (2008-present)

Tuukka Rask has the best career save percentage of all time. In the NHL. He is and has been great. Full stop.

41) Jason Allison (1997-2001)

42) David Backes (2017-present)

This is more of a result of very few impactful players wearing the #42 for Boston. The only other intriguing name was Blake Wheeler, and I gave the career track record of Backes the edge here.

Image result for al iafrate bruins

Photo Credit: Boston Globe

43) Al Iafrate (1994)

The B’s love their heavy clappers from the point.

44) Dennis Seidenberg (2010-2016)

Quietly one of the better shutdown defensemen in the league in his prime.

45) Robert Lang (1998)

46) David Krejci (2007-present)

I haven’t seen many players be able to purposely slow down the game to throw the opposition off like Krejci. He is a consistent playoff performer, and if he played on any other team, he’d be the #1 center.

47) Torey Krug (2012-present)

Again a result of few players donning #47, I think it is pretty clear that Krug is one of the best offensive defensemen in the game, and his only other “competition” for this spot was Steven Kampfer.

48) Matt Grzelcyk (2017-present)

Give it to the local boy, because nobody else really did anything in their careers.

49) Joe Juneau (1992-1994)

50) Jonathan Sigalet (2007)

Who?

51) Ryan Spooner (2013-2018)

I know Spooner hasn’t been tremendous in his career, but literally, nobody of note wore #51.

52) Sean Kuraly (2017-present)

See above. At least Kuraly has had some clutch moments.

53) Derek Morris (2010)

54) Adam McQuaid (2010-2018)

Quaider was THE heavyweight in his era. He is literally terrifying on the ice.

Bruins defenseman Sergei Gonchar, who had a goal and an assist, stepped out with Montreal's Steve Begin after they collided in the third period.

Photo Credit: Jim Davis

55) Sergei Gonchar (2004)

If only Gonchar had stuck with the B’s longer than a season.

56) Petteri Nokelainen (2008)

57) PJ Axelsson (1998)

Axelsson wore a different number?

58) Urho Vaakanainen (2018-present)

Your options are Vaakanainen, Kevin Dallman, and Carter Camper. Yeah, I think this one is obvious.

59) Tim Schaller (2017-2018)

The only other player here is some guy named Rich Brennan, who played all of 7 games with Boston and tallied a single assist.

60) Vladimir Sobotka (2008-2010)

Sobotka, Kirk Nielsen, or Brian Finley? Obvious choice.

61) Rick Nash (2018)

To be honest, Nash’s competition here wasn’t tremendous. Shoutout to Craig Cunningham though.

62) Milan Lucic (2008)

Looch shows up again simply because the only other option here is Zach Trotman.

63) Brad Marchand (2010-present)

The NEWEST rat, Marchy has become one of the premier scorers in the league. But he might have his number retired simply based on his standing with the fans alone.

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Photo Credit: J. Leary/ Getty Images

64) Jarno Kultanen (2001-2003)

Who? Well, Kultanen had the most offensive production out of the options. Sorry to Lane MacDermid, Bobby Robins, and Tyler Randell.

65) Andrew Bodnarchuk (2010)

Either Bodnarchuk or Brett Harkins. Not great options here.

66) NEVER BEEN WORN

67) Benoit Pouliot (2012)

The only other player to wear #67 has been Jakub Zboril, this is kind of by default.

68) Jaromir Jagr (2013)

Jagr is an all-timer, despite struggling in his time with Boston.

69) NEVER BEEN WORN

70) Tim Thomas (2003)

Timmy wore #70 during his first call-up with the B’s, and I think we can say he has had a better career than Malcolm Subban.

71) Marc Savard (2007)

Savvy wore 71? WHY? Better than Jiri Slegr or Terry Virtue though.

72) Peter Schaefer (2008)

A surprising number of players have worn #72, but Schaefer is the only one who was a reasonably decent offensive producer in his time with the team.

73) Charlie McAvoy (2017-present)

This is either McAvoy or Michael Ryder, and this may be controversial, but I thing McAvoy will have a better career.

Image result for paul coffey bruins

Photo Credit: NHL.com

74) Paul Coffey (2001)

OK, I will be honest. I never had any idea Paul Coffey played for Boston.

75) Hal Gill (1998)

76) Alexander Khokhlachev (2014-2016)

Khoko-bonanza. Just for Rob Tomlin.

*^77) Ray Bourque (1988-2000)

78) NEVER BEEN WORN

79) Jeremy Lauzon (2018-present)

Lauzon or David Warsofsky? Toss up, but I think Lauzon has more upside.

80) NEVER BEEN WORN

81) Phil Kessel (2007-2009)

Your options? Kessel, Miroslav Satan, or Anton Blidh. In the Kessel vs. Satan battle, I gotta give it to the hot dog master.

82) NEVER BEEN WORN

83) Peter Cehlarik (2017-present)

Who is Patrick Leahy? I have no clue either.

84) NEVER BEEN WORN

85) NEVER BEEN WORN

^86) Kevan Miller (2014-present)

87) NEVER BEEN WORN

^88) David Pastrnak (2015-present)

^89) Zdenek Blatney (2006)

90) NEVER BEEN WORN

^91) Marc Savard (2007-2011)

Image result for marc savard

Photo Credit: Graig Abel

92) Michael Nylander (2004)

The only other player to wear the number was Guillaume Lefebvre. He sounds like a guy who played in the mid-70s, but he played with the team in 2010. That should tell you why Nylander wins out.

93) NEVER BEEN WORN

94) NEVER BEEN WORN

95) NEVER BEEN WORN

96) NEVER BEEN WORN

97) NEVER BEEN WORN

98) NEVER BEEN WORN

99) NEVER BEEN WORN

The Bruins Week Ahead: Wild Card Edition

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photo credit: Eric Canha/CSM/Cal Sports Media/AP Images

By: Mandi Mahoney  |  Check Me Out On Twitter @phoneymahoney

At the moment, the Boston Bruins are in fourth place in the Atlantic Division with 30 points. It may be too early to talk about the postseason, but they currently inhabit one of the Eastern Conference’s Wild Card slots right now. They are sandwiched between their rivals, as they currently sit two points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs, and three points ahead of the Montreal Canadiens.

Last week, the Bruins racked up an overtime loss in Detroit against the Red Wings, and a win at home on Black Friday against Pittsburgh, followed by one in Montreal on Saturday night. With Patrice Bergeron, and Zdeno Chara out of the lineup in addition to Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Urho Vaakanainen, the Bruins have had a little bit of trouble finding chemistry with their lines so jumbled. Losing their best center, who is also their best player without the puck, has been a bit of an issue for the Bruins.

Luckily for the B’s, defensemen John Moore and Kevan Miller, both of whom have been playing very well this season, returned from injury this week and have helped immensely. Tuukka Rask has also been fantastic in net since returning from his leave of absence.

There are three games coming up this week, and two are against teams in the super competitive Atlantic Division.

Monday, November 26: at Toronto

The Bruins and Maple Leafs have met once this season, with the Bruins winning 5-1. Monday night they will meet again at Scotiabank Arena. Naturally, the Leafs will want to come out flying as they would not be pleased to drop another contest to the B’s, after last season’s first round exit, and getting blown out in their first meeting with Boston this season.

Toronto is third in the Atlantic Division (and fourth in the NHL) with 32 points. The Bruins are fourth in the division (7th in the NHL) with 30 points. Their top center, Auston Matthews, is still out due to a shoulder injury, but has resumed skating and may be returning in the first week of December. The Leafs are still without William Nylander, as the two sides have yet to work out a deal (the Bruins should make Nylander an offer, but that’s a story for another day).

With Matthews out of the lineup, leading the way for the Maple Leafs is 2015 fourth overall draft pick Mitch Marner, who looks no older than your average eighth grader. Marner has scored 30 points in 24 games, with 6 goals, 24 assists. Superstar center John Tavares and defenseman Morgan Rielly are tied for second in points with 27 apiece.

Toronto’s defense remains questionable, but the Leafs’ goaltending has been excellent so far this season. Frederik Andersen is 12-7 in 19 appearances, with a save percentage of .931 and a goals-against-average of 2.24. Backup Garret Sparks was between the pipes for the first game against the Bruins this season. He is 4-1 in 5 games and has put up a Save% of .925, and a GAA of 2.57 – pretty solid.

The Leafs’ power play is 9th in the NHL and is converting at 23.8% (Bruins are third at 28.4%). The penalty kill is 12th in the NHL at 81.3%, while the Bruins are 19th at 78.4% (ouch). Despite Toronto’s defense is their weakness, they don’t allow many goals. Currently, they’ve let in third fewest goals per game in the league, with only Nashville and the Bruins allowing fewer.

The Bruins are going to have to be particularly solid in their own end against Toronto, as the Leafs are a pretty fast team and are skilled offensively. Stretch passes could be an issue if Boston can’t hold onto the puck or handle passes – the Maple Leafs made it obvious last season that they could cause problems for the B’s this way.

Thursday, November 29: vs. New York Islanders

Former Bruins captain Rick Middleton’s number 16 will be retired in a ceremony before Thursday night’s game against the Islanders. Islanders fans are probably happy about this since Nifty enjoyed much more success for the Bruins than he did when he played for their crosstown rival, the New York Rangers.

Despite the loss of star center John Tavares, the Islanders have put together a decent first two months of the season, and are third in the Metropolitan Division with 26 points, good for fourteenth in the NHL. Thursday will be their first game against the Bruins this season.

The Isles have gone 3-2 in their last five games, which include a win and a loss against the rival New York Rangers, who are nipping at their heels in the standings at fourth in the Metropolitan Division. The Islanders are 12-8-2, while the Rangers are 12-10-2. They also beat the Devils 4-3 in overtime on November 23, with the game winner being scored by center Matt Barzal, who Bruins fans are either obsessed with or tired of hearing about – no in between.

The Islanders are about as healthy as the Bruins, as they are currently without Casey Cizikas (lower body), Andrew Ladd (leg), Matthew Lorito (undisclosed), Matt Martin (upper body), and Linus Soderstrom (shoulder). There is a possibility Cizikas might be back for Thursday’s matchup, which would be huge for the Islanders. Matt Martin may be suiting up as well.

The Islanders are scoring 13th most goals per game with 3.18, while the Bruins are tied with Dallas for 21st in the league at 2.83 goals per game. The Isles are in the middle of the pack as far as goals allowed per game, with 2.86, good for 14th in the NHL.

Right wing Josh Bailey is leading the Isles in scoring with 7-14-21 totals, followed by Mat Barzal with 3-17-20 totals. Brock Nelson and Anders Lee have 18 points each, and Valtteri Filppula will be a player to watch on both sides of the puck, as he’s reliable defensively and can score as well.

Saturday, December 1st: vs. Detroit Red Wings

This will be the Bruins’ third meeting with Detroit this season. The absolutely routed the wings 8-2 in October, with David Pastrnak notching a hat-trick. Last week, the Bruins took on the Wings in Detroit and lost in miserable fashion during overtime. A key faceoff was lost, not one, but two Bruins were unable to strip Andreas Athanasiou of the puck, and of course, he scored a beauty of a gamer winner with a fancy spin move that would have been totally stoppable had anybody opted to play defense. Oy.

The Red Wings are 2-2-1 in their last five games. Three of those games have gone to overtime. The Wings won two of those games (Bruins and Devils) and lost to Buffalo in a shootout. Winning this one in regulation would be a good idea, as it’s very clear that the Red Wings are not to be underestimated. They still have speed and firepower in players such as Dylan Larkin, Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, and UMaine alum Gustav Nyquist.

Jimmy Howard has been good in the crease, with a GAA of 2.55 and a Save% of .925. Their backup, Jonathan Bernier, had a rough start, as his stats are 3.54 and .897, respectively, but has been finding his game recently, and had a couple of very solid games last week. Bernier made 49 saves in a single game against Carolina. That statistic should make it pretty obvious that the Red Wings are among the NHL’s worst regarding shots allowed per game (29th in the NHL, at 38.4/game).

An important key to this game will be for the Bruins to get as much offensive zone time as possible and capitalize on the many opportunities the Red Wings are probably going to serve up for them. The Bruins should take as many shots as possible, and create traffic in front of the net if they want to be successful. It seems they’re finally starting to find a little bit of chemistry in the new lineup sans Bergeron. Hopefully, they can keep it up.

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My Chat With Bruins Legend Rick Middleton

 

usatsi_5153514( Photo Credit: NBC Sports Boston )

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

On November 29th, just five days from now, the Boston Bruins will raise another number to the rafters. This one will be the 11th number to be retired in the history of the franchise, founded in 1924. The first ever number to be retired was Lionel Hitchman’s number three back in 1934, and the most recent number to be raised to the rafters was Cam Neely’s number eight in 2004. The latest addition to this legendary group is quite a “Nifty” guy. All joking aside, Rick Middleton will have his number 16 raised to the rafters in a pre-game ceremony prior to the Bruins matchup with the New York Islanders next Thursday.

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Middleton is fourth on the all-time scoring list in Bruins history with 988 points amassed in 12 seasons in black and gold. Only Ray Bourque, Johnny Bucyk, and Phil Esposito had more points in their legendary Bruins careers. Middleton is one of only three players to score at least 400 goals in his career in Boston. Born a Leafs fan in Toronto, Middleton broke into the league as a 21-year-old for the New York Rangers, totaling 22 goals and 18 assists in just 47 games. Traded to the Bruins in 1976, Middleton scored 20 goals and added 22 assists in his first season in Boston. Middleton’s best statistical season came in 1983-84 when he scored a career-high 105 points on 47 goals and 58 assists. Middleton had more than 40 goals five times in his career, and impressively, he did it in five consecutive seasons with a high of 51 in 1981-82. It is also worth noting that Middleton is one of about 320 players who have played in more than 1,000 games in their careers.

Middleton played for six coaches during his Bruins career, from Don Cherry to Terry O’Reilly and a few in between. The Bruins made three appearances in the Stanley Cup Final during Middleton’s time in Boston, twice in his first two seasons and then in his final season. Unfortunately, the Bruins lost each time, twice to the Montreal Canadiens and once to the Edmonton Oilers. Perhaps the most infamous moment during Middleton’s career happened on December 23rd, 1979, the night Mike Millbury beat a fan with his shoe at Madison Square Garden. Three Bruins were suspended and fined, but fortunately, no blood was spilled.

Middleton was a three-time All-Star and won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 1982 as the “player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” Middleton holds a few league records as well, including most points ever recorded in one playoff series and the most assists ever recorded in a playoff series. Middleton scored exactly 100 points in his postseason career in 114 games. Middleton finished just 12 points shy of 1,000 points for his career, but his legacy will be remembered forever when his number gets raised to the TD Garden rafters next week.

You can listen to my full interview with Rick Middleton on the link below

Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGaint for your next Boston Bruins game. Click the link below, and when purchasing any event ticket, from the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL to concerts and shows, please use discount code BNGP to save a little money. Thank You!

-> Boston Bruins 2018-19 Regular Season Schedule & Ticket Information From SeatGiant.com <-

Bergeron Adds To Home Opener History for Bruins!

(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @Evan007onTV

It’s officially 🎩🎩🎩’s off to No. 37, Patrice Bergeron, on recording his 4th career Hat Trick for the Boston Bruins during their 6-3 W over the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden on Monday, Oct. 8.

Now, why does the date & location need mentioning? I mean, it really doesn’t matter when or where a player gets a “hattie” because it’s always worth celebrating, am I right? Well, it’s because the B’s Assistant Captain (or Co-Captain as I like to rightfully call him) made the franchise record books with his impressive 3-goal game on “Opening Day” in Boston.  That’s right … only a handful of Bruins in the history of the team have ever lit the lamp thrice during the Home Opener. And, oh, what a list it is to be on for Bergeron!

CARSON COOPER – 11/16/1926

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The 1926 Boston Bruins season began at home versus the soon-to-be arch-rival Montreal Canadiens. And thanks to Carson Cooper (not Claude) consistently connecting in the 4-1 contest, the B’s clocked the score sheet more times than a clean copper clapper kept in a closet can clang! For anyone who doesn’t get this alliterative reference, look no further than below. (photo credit: Flickr)

PHIL ESPOSITO – 10/10/1973

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It would take the B’s almost 50 years before another Home Opener Hattie (H.O.H.) and it probably surprises no one that it came at, and on, the hands of the Hockey Hall of Famer Phil Esposito. Known for his scoring prowess, ‘Espo’ helped the B’s best the Canucks in a 6-4 win where offense was on display practically the whole game. The same can be said for his illustrious Bruins career — one in which he recorded 32 hat tricks between 1967 and 1975. How’s that for a dominating stretch of hockey that truly deserves a bit of sports illustration? (photo credit: Sports Memorabilia)

RICK MIDDLETON – 10/7/1976

Image result for rick middleton bruinsThere was nothing niftier than Rick “Nifty” Middleton scoring multiple times during a game. And he got the Gahhhden rockin’ in early October of 1976 when his hat trick propelled the B’s over the then Minnesota North Stars 6-2. Speaking of stars, Nifty was a bona fide B’s one his whole career wearing the spoked-B. (photo credit: NHL.com)

CAM NEELY – 1/22/1995 & 10/07/1995

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I don’t know how Beckett Hockey Monthly could’ve put a price on Cam Neely because his talent was truly priceless. And in 1995, the price was right (unlike for the Red Sox) TWICE as Neely notched quite the achievement on his Bruins’ belt. He garnered hat tricks in two separate Home Openers during the same calendar year since the start of the ’94 season was locked out until January.  Then, like clockwork, the ’95 season rolled around in October. So, Neely’s three goals in a 4-1 W versus Philly on 1/22 and three goals in a 4-4 T versus the Isles on 10/07 prove to be the best out-of-the-gate offensive outbursts to start a season in hometown hockey history. (photo credit: comc.com)

PATRICE BERGERON – 10/08/2018

Image result for patrice bergeron hat trickAfter a highlight-filled skate down B’s home-opener-history lane, let’s “B Inclusive” just like the team’s campaign with the MA Special Olympics that debuted this October 8th and welcome Patrice Bergeron as the 5th official member of the H.O.H. club. His perfectly placed and timed three goals against the Sens got the TD Garden crowd ready for action all season long in the best way possible. After all, he was adding to the “Home Opener History for the Bruins!” (photo credit: Boston Globe)