Boston Bruins vs. Philadelphia Flyers – An Underrated Rivalry

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Boston Bruins’ Charlie Coyle shields the puck from Philadelphia Flyers’ Connor Bunnaman. PHOTO CREDITS: (nbcsports.com)

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

As one of the first franchises in the National Hockey League, the Boston Bruins have had their fair share of time to stir the pot with essentially every other team. Typically, when the word “rivalry” combines with the name “Boston Bruins”, the other five Original Six teams come to mind. The rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens, as fellow Black n’ Gold Hockey Podcast writer Joe Chrzanowski wrote about in a recent article, is widely regarded as the greatest rivalry in the history of the NHL.

As well, rivalries with the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks, and even the Detroit Red Wings are fairly well-known. These teams are rivals with the Bruins more-so because of the fact they were the only teams in the league at the time and played each other in high-stakes games often, thus creating hatred for one another on the ice.

However, in the 1967-68 season, the National Hockey League introduced six new organizations to the league – the California Seals, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, and the Philadelphia Flyers, bringing the size of the league to twelve teams instead of six. With more competition and more opponents, winning a Stanley Cup became even more challenging and opened the door for more rivalries.

As an expansion team, the Philadelphia Flyers had losing records in each of their first five seasons, making the postseason three times and losing in the quarter-finals each time – twice to the St. Louis Blues and once to the Chicago Blackhawks. It wasn’t until the 1972-73 season where the Flyers, led by captain Bobby Clarke, finished with a winning record of 37-30-11. Philly knocked out the Minnesota North Stars in six games but fell short in five games to the Montreal Canadiens in the next round.

In the very next season, the Bobby Clarke scored a team-leading 87 points to help lead the Flyers to a 50-16-12 record and the 1st place position in the NHL West Division. After sweeping the Atlanta Flames in the opening round and bouncing the New York Rangers in seven games, the Flyers were in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history – against the powerhouse Boston Bruins.

The Start of a Rivalry: 1974 – 1978

Led by Bobby Orr and company, the Boston Bruins were one of the strongest teams in the National Hockey League. The Bruins won the Stanley Cup in the 1969-70 season, won 57 games before losing in the first round in the ’70/’71 season, won a second Stanley Cup in 71-72, won another 51 games in 72-73, and were coming off a 52-17-9 record in the 1973-74 campaign.

Boston eliminated both the Toronto Maple Leafs (4-0) and Chicago Blackhawks (4-2) in the previous two rounds which led to the Finals against Philadelphia. During the regular season, the B’s won the season series 3-1-1, out-scoring Philly 20-to-16 in those five games. Boston was arguably the favorites to win their third Stanley Cup in five seasons.

The 1974 Stanley Cup Finals was also a series between two of the scariest NHL teams at the time and quite possibly of all-time. The Bruins were known as the ‘Big Bad Bruins’ with the likes of Terry O’Reilly and Wayne Cashman and truly paved the way for the physical, hard-hitting teams like the Broad Street Bullies to even exist. Now, with the likes of Dave Schultz and Don Saleski, these two tough teams were going toe-to-toe with Lord Stanley on the line.

Boston took the first game, but the Flyers won Game Two in overtime followed by wins in Games Three and Four to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. In Game Five, the Bruins scored more than three goals for the first (and only) time in the series, winning the game 5-1. However, Hall-of-Fame goaltender Bernie Parent stopped every shot in Game Six as the Philadelphia Flyers won their first franchise Stanley Cup with a 1-0 victory. Parent was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy.

The Broad Street Bullies did not stop there. In the very next season, they dominated once again all the way to their second-consecutive Stanley Cup, defeating the Buffalo Sabres in six games. The Bruins, on the other hand, lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the best-of-three preliminary round.

In 1975-76, both the Bruins and Flyers were top-three in the final league standings and found success early on in the postseason. Thus led to a semi-finals matchup between the two, a rematch from the Finals two years prior. The Flyers dominated the Bruins, winning four-straight games after losing Game One, sending them to the Stanley Cup Finals again. However, the Montreal Canadiens proved to be too good and swept Philly in four games.

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Boston Bruins’ Bobby Orr (right) passes the puck as Philadelphia Flyers Rick MacLeish looks on in Boston on February 9, 1974. PHOTO CREDITS: (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP)

For the next two seasons, these hard-hitting franchises played against one another in the semi-finals with Boston winning both matchups before going on to lose to the Montreal Canadiens – as most teams did back in this era of the NHL. During those five years, the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers played in four playoff series with each team winning twice. Although, only the Broad Street Bullies managed to go on and win the Stanley Cup (1974) after their series.

The 1970s went down as arguably the most entertaining decades for each of these teams. Philadelphia and Boston had seemingly the perfect blend of scoring talent, solid goaltending, and the willingness to drop the gloves and pound your body into the glass. Ruthless, intense, physically-demanding are the best ways to describe the Big Bad Bruins and the Broad Street Bullies back in the day.

A Recent Resurgence: 2007 – Present

This rivalry appeared to die down a little during the 1980s, 1990s, and beginning stages to the 2000s. We did not see another playoff series between the two organizations and neither team won another Stanley Cup in that period. While they played each other in the scheduled regular-season games, there just was not as much intensity as a best-of-seven elimination series.

However, the bad blood between Boston and Philadelphia started to amp up more recently. On October 27th, 2007, defenceman Randy Jones brutally hit 22-year-old Patrice Bergeron on the numbers into the glass. Bergeron laid unconscious on the ice before being stretchered out of the arena. He was later diagnosed with a broken nose and a concussion and was forced to miss the remainder of the 2007-08 season. Jones received a two-game suspension for his hit.

Two seasons later, in 2009-2010, the Bruins and the Flyers each made it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after finishing third in their respective Eastern Conference divisions. Boston dispatched of the Buffalo Sabres in six games while Philadelphia knocked out the New Jersey Devils in five games. This subsequently led to a Bruins-Flyers playoff series for the first time since 1977-78 – 32 years prior.

Following a 5-4 overtime win in Game One, the B’s would win the next two meetings to have a dominating 3-0 series lead over the Black and Orange. Most hockey fans expected Boston to come out victorious, but the Flyers were not done yet. Simon Gagne, who missed the first three games due to injury, scored the game-winning goal in overtime to avoid the four-game sweep.

Philly shutout the Bruins 4-0 in Game Five and stole Game Six by a final score of 2-1 to somehow, someway force a pivotal Game Seven in Boston, Massachusetts. With goals from Michael Ryder and Milan Lucic (2), the Bruins exploded to a 3-0 lead in the first period of play. However, James van Riemsdyk buried one with less than three minutes to go in the opening frame to cut the lead down to two.

Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere each potted one of their own to equal the score after forty minutes. Then, the Boston Bruins took a too-many-men penalty (a Déjà vu moment from the 1979 Semi-Finals against Montreal) which lead to a power-play goal by Simon Gagne with just around seven minutes remaining in the final regulation period.

Philadelphia held on to win Game Seven, 4-3, and became just the third team in NHL history to come back from a 3-0 series deficit and win the series (Maple Leafs over Red Wings in 1942, Islanders over Penguins in 1975). This series loss remains to be one of the most heartbreaking moments for many Boston Bruins fans as an almost certain series win came crashing down. The Flyers would go on to win the Conference Finals but lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals.

During the 2010-2011 campaign, both Boston and Philadelphia finished with 100-plus-point records and were considered to be two of the favorites to make it to the Finals coming out of the East. The Bruins defeated the Canadiens in seven at the same time the Flyers eliminated the Sabres in seven – setting up an immediate rematch of the year prior.

Once again, Boston came out strong, winning Game One 7-3, Game Two 3-2 in overtime, and Game Three 5-1. With another 3-0 series lead over Philly, the Black and Gold were looking to finish the job successfully this time. In a masterful game of offensive and defensive success, the Bruins won Game Four by a score of 5-to-1 and eliminated Philadelphia to move onto the Eastern Conference Finals.

As we know, the Boston Bruins beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games and the Vancouver Canucks in seven games to win their sixth Stanley Cup and first since 1972. The 2011 Bruins went down as one of the toughest teams in NHL history as their defense and hard-hitting style helped lead them to victory. It was shades of the old-school 1970s Big Bad Bruins – the team that as we discussed, started the rivalry with the Philadelphia Flyers.

In 201 regular-season games dating back to 1967-68, the Boston Bruins have a combined 107-61-21-12 record over the Philadelphia Flyers, outscoring them 659-to-583. In addition to that, these two teams have played six playoff series against one another with each winning three times. The Bruins have outscored the Flyers in the postseason 100-to-86.

Now, in 2019-20, this rivalry has the potential to gain new ground. On March 10th, 2020, the Bruins defeated the Flyers 2-0 in what ended up being the final game of the regular season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the NHL’s Return-to-Play format, the Bruins and Flyers will each play in a Round Robin to determine seeding for the remainder of the playoffs.  This means that there is the potential for another high-stakes game between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers and to be quite frank, I am ready for it.

To a lot of Bruins and Flyers fans alike, this rivalry is heated, intense, and quite historic. However, with other more high-profile rivals for each respective franchise, this one often goes unnoticed. For that reason, the rivalry between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers is one of the most underrated ones in NHL history.

Information and statistics are courtesy of hockeyreference.com, nhl.com, records.nhl.com, thehockeywriters.com, and bleacherreport.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: #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!

Boston Should Be A Hub City

( Photo Credit: STUART GARFIELD 0

By: Jess Belmosto| Follow me on Twitter: @jessbelmosto

There have been several cities thrown around in conversation for candidacy to be a hub city in the return of the NHL playoffs. Boston has not been mentioned. Jenna West from Sports Illustrated reported on June 23 there were six teams with their hat in the race.

  • Vancouver
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angelos
  • Edmonton
  • Chicago
  • Toronto

We know now that Vancouver is no longer part of the conversation.

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While the goal is to get it down to two cities, what if the best option isn’t even in the race? Is it possible that the league said no to Boston before the curve was flattened? Maybe the Jacobs family isn’t interested.

The Curve is Flattened

There are a number of possibilities of why Boston hadn’t been mentioned. Let’s talk about why it should be in the conversation.

Massachusetts and its capitol are no longer hot spots. Governor Charlie Baker has been diligent in monitoring numbers as the state lifts restrictions. Boston is in a position where they could open their doors and welcome hockey back into the beloved TD Garden.

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No Easy Way To Decide

There’s obviously a lot at stake when it comes to cities welcoming “outsiders” for extended periods of time for the first time in over three months. This is peak Cape time. Everyone wants to see the Mayflower and then a trip over the Bourne Bridge to a crowded beach.

Under normal circumstances, Massachusetts is prepared for accommodating a mass amount of visitors. While I understand that these are not normal times and the typical tourists stayed home, the focus will be so heavily directed toward keeping spaces clean and prepared for players and staff.

What About The Ice Conditions?

People complain about the ice conditions at TD Garden any chance they get. It’s not the best but it could certainly be worse! Former Bruins beat reporter DJ Bean pointed out why the garden would be okay!

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Final Thoughts

While I do believe the return of sports is just a little bit out of reach right now, I still think Boston should be considered. If it’s not Plan A it should certainly be someone’s Plan B.

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!

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Bruins Recognize Season Ticket Holder & Healthcare Heroes!

Bruins STH Heroes(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

The Boston Bruins organization is honoring faithful fans dedicated to not only the team, but also our health and safety during these unprecedented times.

 

Through their Season Ticket Holder (STH) Heroes initiative and the equally relevant Healthcare Heroes program, the B’s “are highlighting season ticket holders who have been directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic or are on the frontlines of the fight against the virus… [as well as] the care and compassion of countless [Bruins fans] in healthcare,” according to the team’s website and Twitter account.

As many of us have experienced firsthand be it through family, friends, fellow fans or even ourselves, the fight against COVID-19 has required ample amounts of sacrifice, dedication, perseverance and a mutual respect of each other’s well-being — echoing the recently-published posts (and ideals) of Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara as players and more importantly people.

Now with the team sharing positive and inspiring stories about Bruins supporters who simultaneously support everyone’s health and well-being with their tireless efforts and actions, the B’s are putting themselves in a position to succeed both on and off the ice when the season (hopefully) resumes mid-Summer.

Here’s an example of how the Bruins are tipping their caps online to each STH and Healthcare Hero right now:

Name: Amy Ginter / Occupation: Respiratory Therapist

STH since: 2017

Seats: Loge 8, Row 20, Seats 1-2

Favorite Player: Zdeno Chara – “I admire his skill, leadership qualities and record-fast slap shots! I can’t wait to see my Bruins in action again at the Garden.”

“Being a Registered Respiratory Therapist for 13 years has been an amazing experience. Respiratory Therapy, as an occupation, is not widely known or understood by the general population, but we are a key part of the bedside care team with nurses and doctors. Our responsibility is the patient’s airway, so we initiate and manage ventilators (life support) as well as other means of ventilatory support.

“COVID-19 has presented significant challenges that I have never witnessed before: new ventilation strategies, stringent PPE requirements, overwhelming numbers of patients who require intensive care, etc. The most difficult aspect has been witnessing family not able to be with their suffering and dying loved ones because they are in isolation and cannot have visitors. Respiratory Therapists and nurses are at the bedside for these patients for their last moments which has been profoundly sad.

“On a positive note, COVID-19 has brought forth a better understanding of the role that Respiratory Therapists play as part of the care team through recognition on social media and news outlets. This really means a lot to me, and I am proud of my profession and feel blessed to be a part of such an integral team. Yay Respiratory!

“Currently, I am a traveling Respiratory Therapist in Boston at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center on a COVID-19 crisis assignment.”

                                                                                                            –Boston Bruins Website

If you’d like a chance to be recognized, or to nominate someone as a Bruins “STH or Healthcare Hero,” I suggest tagging the @NHLBruins online or commenting on any of the team’s official posts. Like a David Pastrnak “Goal of the Year,” now is a great time to be celebrating some positive news when it comes to one of our passions — Bruins hockey!  

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Boston Bruins Announce 2019-2020 Award Winners

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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

At the end of each season, the Boston Bruins hand out numerous awards within the organization to the players who best exemplify the criteria. Today, June 18th, the Bruins released the 2019-2020 winners of these team awards.

Eddie Shore Award – D Brandon Carlo

Eddie Shore was a 14-year veteran of the Boston Bruins during the late 1920s and early 1930s, winning two Stanley Cups and being selected to eight All-Star games. Shore was the embodiment of a hard-working, tough Bruin and for that reason, the organization created an award in his name. The Eddie Shore Award, presented by the Gallery Gods, is awarded to the player who best demonstrated “exceptional hustle and determination throughout the season”. This year’s winner – defenceman Brandon Carlo.

Carlo, 23, played in the third full season of his young career and in only 67 games, set a new career-high in goals, assists, and points with 4-15-19 numbers. Playing 20:29 minutes per-game, Carlo has become a pivotal piece to Boston’s defensive core and will be a solid defensive defenceman of the future as well. This award goes to show the effort he puts in on a night-to-night basis and how he put his all on the ice to help the Bruins win. He joins forward Jake DeBrusk who won the award last season.

John P. Bucyk Award – F Patrice Bergeron

John Bucyk is one of the greatest Boston Bruins of all-time. Having played 1436 career regular-season games (2nd-most in franchise history) and his 21 seasons as a Bruin along with his 1369 career points and two Stanley Cups, “The Chief” is a perfect image of the Boston Bruins, having been apart of the organization for 62 seasons now. For that reason, this award is named after him and is awarded to the player with “the greatest off-ice charitable contributions”. This year’s winner – forward Patrice Bergeron.

Bergeron, 34, is not only one of the most respected Bruins, but most respected NHL players, and part of that is due to his incredible off-ice contributions to his community and people who are in need. While Bergeron has often been involved in great charity work, it is a recent gesture that showcased his class. Following the death of George Floyd, Patrice Bergeron made a lengthy, heartfelt statement regarding racial inequality and donated $50,000 – $25,000 to the Boston NAACP and $25,000 to Centre Multiethnique de Quebec in Canada.

In addition to the award, Bergeron will be awarded $1,000 from the Boston Bruins Alumni Foundation to donate to a charity of his choice. Throughout his career, the Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec, Canada native has truly exemplified class and respect to everyone on and off the ice and is very well-deserving of this award. This is his second time winning the award, (other in 2006-07) and joins Zdeno Chara who won the award last season.

Elizabeth Dufresne Trophy – F David Pastrnak

The Elizabeth C. Dufresne Trophy is commonly awarded in the final home game of the regular season, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that is not possible. However, for many years, this trophy has been awarded to the Boston Bruin “with the most outstanding performance during home games”. This year’s winner – forward David Pastrnak.

Pastrnak, 24, has emerged as one of the top scorers in the National Hockey League, winning the Maurice Richard Trophy for most goals in the league this season (tied with Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin). According to Hockey Reference, Pastrnak scored 28-21-49 numbers in 35 games on TD Garden ice in 2019-20, showcasing how dominant he is when at home. This is the first time Pastrnak has been awarded this trophy, ending Brad Marchand’s three-year streak.

Bruins legend Raymond Bourque won this trophy seven times (a franchise-best), while Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr each won it five times and Milt Schmidt and Rick Middleton won it four times each. While he has a long way to go to get there, David Pastrnak is proving at a young age that he can be a dangerous player for years to come in the NHL.

98.5 The Sports Hub Three Stars – F Pastrnak, G Rask, F Marchand

Finally, the Boston Bruins Three Stars that go to the top three players that were the team’s best performers during home games this season. The winners – forward David Pastrnak, goaltender Tuukka Rask, and forward Brad Marchand.

David Pastrnak was awarded the first star for his 28 goals, 21 assists, and 49 points at home in ’18/’19. Pastrnak finished as the 3rd Star last year, showing his improvement as a young forward in the league. The second star goes to Tuukka Rask who finished with a stellar 14-2-6 record on home ice with a 2.15 GAA and a .926 save percentage to go along with his three shutouts. This is the sixth time Rask has been named one of the Three Stars on the Bruins.

Finally, Brad Marchand scored 14 goals and a team-high 27 assists for 41 points in TD Garden this campaign and once again proved how dangerous he is when at home. This is Marchand’s fifth time being named in the top three stars of the Bruins and his fourth-straight season as well.

In addition to these team awards, the Boston Bruins also won the President’s Trophy, David Pastrnak was named a co-winner of the Maurice Richard Trophy, and both Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak won the William M. Jennings Trophy. Tuukka Rask is also talked about being one of the favorites to win the Vezina Trophy, David Pastrnak is expected to be a nominee for the Hart Trophy, and Patrice Bergeron could potentially be a candidate for the Frank J. Selke Trophy.

All in all, it has been a successful regular-season for the 2019-2020 Boston Bruins and the chase for the greatest prize in hockey, the Stanley Cup, is about to get underway.

Information and statistics used in this article courtesy of hockeyreference.com, nhl.com, wikipedia.com, and @nhlbruins on Twitter.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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Bruins D Kevan Miller Named Boston PHWA Chapter’s Nominee For Masterton

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(Photo: Bob DeChiara / USA TODAY Sports)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Boston Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller has been named the Boston Professional Hockey Writers Association (PWHA) chapter’s nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. The Masterton is annually awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.

A player from all 31 franchises is nominated for the award each year, with the recipient being announced at the NHL Awards during the offseason. Here are all nominees for the 2019-20 season:

Miller has not skated in a game for the Bruins since April 2, 2019, where he suffered a broken right kneecap, which required surgery. The 32-year-old suffered a setback while trying to come back during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, breaking his kneecap and having a procedure for the injury once again. The right-shot defenseman had spent the majority of the 2019-20 season rehabbing his knee before suffering another setback in March, which required a third surgery on his knee.

In April, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney ruled out the possibility that Miller suits up in a game for Boston this season, even with the added recovery time as when exactly games will resume is still a question. A native of Los Angeles, CA, Miller is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of this season; however, Sweeney said that the team would explore options to re-sign the bruiser.

Boston signed Miller as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Vermont in 2011. Through 324 career NHL contests, the 6-foot-2, 210 pound blueliner has 12 goals and 55 assists for 77 points in addition to 261 penalty minutes and a plus-80 rating.

Boston captain Zdeno Chara was the team’s nominee last season. Former Bruins to have won the Masterton include: Phil Kessel (2006-07), Cam Neely (1993-94), Gord Kluzak (1989-90), and Charlie Simmer (1985-86).

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 181 that we recorded below on 5-30-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

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Aaron Rome’s Hit on Bruins’ Nathan Horton Changed the 2011 Finals

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( Photo Credit: Brian Snyder/Reuters )

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

June 1st, 2020 marked the ninth anniversary of Game One of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. The best-of-seven series put the Boston Bruins, a team looking to end a 39-year Stanley Cup drought, up against the Vancouver Canucks, the 2010-11 Presidents’ Trophy Champions looking for their first Cup win in franchise history. Before we dive into the Finals itself, we have to look at how both of the teams earned their spot to compete for Lord Stanley’s Cup.

As previously mentioned, the Canucks entered the Finals as the best regular-season team, finishing the 2010-11 campaign with a 54-19-9 record. Vancouver scored the most goals (262), allowed the least amount of goals (185), and was arguably one of the favorites to go deep in the playoffs.

In the opening round, the Canucks were positioned to play the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. Vancouver exploded to a commanding 3-0 series lead only for the Hawks to storm back and force a Game 7. Even with that, a game-winning goal by Alex Burrows won the series for the Canucks and led them to the second round to play the Nashville Predators who were coming off of a six-game series victory over the Anaheim Ducks.

Vancouver won games one, three, and four to take a 3-1 series lead and while the Predators won Game Five, the Canucks closed the show in a 2-1 win in Game Six to move onto the Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks, the first-place team in the Pacific Division. This would be the easiest series yet for the Blue and White as they’d cruise to a 4-to-1 series victory, advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1993-94.

Meanwhile, in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Bruins were on their road to the Finals as well. Following a 46-25-11 record that won them the Northeast Division, the Bruins entered the 2011 postseason with a chance to go far, but many felt other teams would make it further. To add to the drama, the Bruins had to play their long-time rivals, the Montreal Canadiens in Round One.

This opening round was the definition of a back-and-forth playoff series. Montreal won the first two meetings on the road, followed by two wins by Boston in Montreal. In a pivotal Game Five, Bruins forward Nathan Horton scored the game-winning goal in double-overtime to give Boston their first lead in the series. The Canadiens took the sixth game, only for Boston to eliminate them on home ice off of Horton’s OT winner in Game Seven.

Now, for a second-consecutive season, the Boston Bruins would face off against the Philadephia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. The year prior, the Bruins held a 3-0 series lead, only for the Flyers to storm back and win the series in a dramatic Game 7, stunning Boston. With a chance at redemption, the Black and Gold took a 3-0 series once again, but this time, ending things in Game Four, advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals.

In one of the closest, most nail-biting series I can remember, the Bruins battled the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Conference Finals. Just like the Bruins, the Bolts swept their previous round (Washington Capitals) and were riding on a ton of momentum. The series was intense all the way to Game Seven, where once again, Nathan Horton scored the eventual game-winner in the third period. Horton’s 8th of the postseason secured a berth in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals.

Finally, the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. The Boston Bruins versus the Vancouver Canucks in a best-of-seven series that will break the hearts of one fanbase and cause a mass celebration for the other. As they had in every other series, the Canucks earned home-ice advantage and in the Finals, they took that advantage and ran with it, winning the first two games of the series by scores of 1-0 in Game One and a 3-2 overtime win in Game Two.

Now, the series shifts to Boston with the Bruins facing a tough task, having to bounce back from a 2-0 deficit to have a shot at winning the Cup. Five minutes into the opening frame of Game Three, the Bruins are executing a breakout play out of the defensive zone. Captain Zdeno Chara sends a pass up the ice to Nathan Horton who skates through the neutral zone, before handing it off to Milan Lucic just before entering the Vancouver zone. Over a second after releasing the puck, Aaron Rome, a 6-foot-1, 218-pound defenceman hits Horton, knocking him out cold.

Horton laid on the ice for several minutes after the hit before being stretchered out of TD Garden. He was hospitalized overnight and was diagnosed with a severe concussion and was forced to miss the remainder of the Stanley Cup Finals. At this time, Horton had scored eight goals in the 2011 postseason included three game-winning goals and the two series-clinching goals showcased above. This put the Bruins without arguably their most clutch player for the rest of the series.

Vancouver’s Aaron Rome did not get away without dealing with consequences, though. Rome was handed a five-minute game misconduct for interference and the NHL later announced that Rome would be suspended for the remainder of the Finals, making it the longest suspension in Stanley Cup Finals history at the time.

The first period of Game Three ended with a 0-0 tie, but the Bruins exploded, scoring four goals in the middle frame and then another four in the final period to take a dominate 8-1 victory. In Game Four, Tim Thomas stopped all 38 shots and Rich Peverley scored twice to help Boston win 4-0 and tie the series heading back to Vancouver.

In Game Five, the Canucks blanked the Bruins 1-0 courtesy of Roberto Luongo’s 31-save performance, putting the Canucks only one win away from winning the series. Although, facing elimination was not new for these Boston Bruins having two Game Seven victories under their belt, but now, they were playing for their teammate Nathan Horton. A four-goal first-period in Boston forced a Game Seven on the road in Vancouver.

Throughout the series so far, the only wins by the Bruins – were at home. Every game in Vancouver found the Bruins not only losing, but getting shutout twice as well. For this reason, Horton filled a water bottle of melted TD Garden ice, and before puck drop in the do-or-die Game Seven, poured the water onto the ice at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. It may just be superstition, but it was Horton’s way of continuously helping the Boston Bruins even without actually playing for them.

Hockey fans all know how this story ends. Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron each scored a pair of goals and the Boston Bruins hoisted the Stanley Cup for the first time since Bobby Orr’s team did the same in the 1971-72 Finals. The 2010-11 Boston Bruins were not just a “team”, they were family and that was put on full display for them to come back from being down 2-0 in the series and win the Stanley Cup. They played for Nathan Horton and came through on it.

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( Photo Credit: thespec.com )

It is impossible to know the results of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals if Aaron Rome never landed that hit on Nathan Horton but what we do know, is that the tides changed the moment that injury happened. To this day, it is one of the greatest stories in the history of the Boston Bruins franchise.

Note: Statistics and information used in this article are courtesy of hockeyreference.com, cbc.ca, and nhl.com.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 181 that we recorded below on 5-30-20! 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.

Thomas2

( 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)

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 181 that we recorded below on 5-31-20! 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!

 

Report: Peter Cehlarik Leaves Bruins, Signs With Lugano

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(Photo: Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Now former Boston Bruins forward prospect Peter Cehlarik has reportedly agreed to a terms with HC Lugano of the Swiss National League. The 24-year-old was slated to become a restricted free agent this summer after his one-year deal with an average annual value (AVV) of $700,000 runs out.

Last month, Cehlarik spoke with Slovak media about his frustrations with the Bruins organization after traveling to his native country to wait out the pandemic. The left-shot forward did not seem too pleased with his usage under Boston head coach Bruce Cassidy during his stints with the big club.

“I can’t cross the line to persuade Bruins [coach] Bruce Cassidy for good,” Cehlarik said at the time. “Sometimes I felt as if he was just waiting for my mistake to send me back to the farm.

“They know what they are doing. They’ve invested years of development in me. It’s all about trust from a coach I don’t get. I still hear that I’m ready for the NHL, I have it, but when it goes like this, I need a change and a new start. It is high time.”

The left-winger has suited up in just three games with the Bruins this season, notching just one assist and posting a minus-one rating. In 48 games with the Providence Bruins, Boston’s American Hockey League affiliate, he has 16-21-37 totals in addition to a plus-three rating in 48 games.

On Nov. 2, 2019, Cassidy was candid with the media about his thoughts on Cehlarik’s performance after a matchup with the Ottawa Senators, saying: “If [Cehlarik]’s going to stay in the National Hockey League, you’ve got to play to your strengths, and I thought he had opportunities to make plays. He made a few here and there, but I thought he left some on the table. At the end of the day, the details we’ll keep getting after him about, so overall, I thought he was okay.”

Boston’s bench boss also noted he feels Cehlarik’s ideal spot in the lineup is next to a “skilled centerman.” After failing to make the team out of camp, Cehlarik was placed on waivers to be assigned to Providence, and went unclaimed.

On his career, the 90th overall pick in the third round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft has five goals and six assists for 11 points in 40 NHL games, as well as a plus-11 rating. In 185 AHL contests, Cehlarik has 59-77-136 numbers in addition to a plus-20 rating. Over nine Calder Cup Playoffs games, he recored three goals and one assist.

Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron skated with Lugano during the 2012-13 lockout. In 21 games with the club before the NHL returned, Bergeron registered 29 points (11g, 18a).

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