After giving the fans of the Black and Gold a few days to ponder picks #10-#6 of the best goaltenders in Boston Bruins history, here are the top five.
Make sure your pads are on tight and your mask is snug, it’s shoot out time!
Let the debate begin.
In case you need to refresh your memory, here is the link to picks #10 – #6.
5. Eddie Johnston – Johnston came to Boston in 1962 after stints in the
Quebec Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League. Johnston is the last goalie in NHL history to have played in every minute of every game. In the ’63-’64 season, he posted a record of 18-40-12 in 70 games.
In his first five years in the league, the Bruins were not a competitive club. They missed the playoffs every year. However in 1967 with the arrival of expansion, the Bruins began to build a dynasty.
After Orr and Esposito joined the club, the team began to flourish. Johnston served as the back-up to Gerry Cheevers during the Big Bad Bruins days of the 1970’s. Cheevers and Johnston backstopped Boston to two Stanley Cup titles in 1970 and 1972. Johnston had his best statistical season in ’70-’71 when he won 30 games and posted a 2.53 goals against average.
Johnston won 180 regular season games which is good for fourth all time in Boston Bruins franchise history. He played 11 seasons for Boston before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
4. Gilles Gilbert – Gilles Gilbert came to Boston via Minnesota to replace legend, Gerry Cheevers. Cheevers bolted for the fledgling WHA and Gilbert became the Bruins primary goalie during the ’73-’74 season.
No one replaces Cheevers, but Gilbert made Bruins fans forget him a little. Gilles won 34 games and led the Bruins to Stanley Cup Finals that year. He won ten playoff games, but Boston lost to Philadelphia, four games to two.
During the ’75-’76 season, Gilbert set a record which still stands for most consecutive wins with 17. He would finish the season with 33 wins and a GAA of 2.90.
Gerry Cheevers returned to the NHL and the Bruins during the ’76-’77 season. Gilbert and Cheevers would share goal tending duties for the next four seasons. Who knows what numbers Gilbert would have put up if he was the primary goalie?
Both goalies had career years in the ’79-’80 campaign where they both finished as runner ups for the Vezina trophy.
Gilbert would be shipped to Detroit following the season. Gilbert had 155 regular season wins (fifth all time) and 17 playoff victories (fourth all time) in his career with the Boston Bruins.
3. Cecil “Tiny” Thompson – Thompson’s contract was purchased from the Minneapolis Milers of the American Hockey League by Bruins manager Art Ross in the ’28-’29 season. Ross never saw Thompson play, but made his decision based on his reputation in Minnesota.
The gamble paid off for Ross and Boston. In his first season, “Tiny” won 26 of the 44 games he played and posted a microscopic 1.15 GAA. His goal against average is the second lowest GAA all time. He backstopped the Bruins to their first ever Stanley Cup championship with five wins which included three via the shutout.
In the following season, Thompson proved he was no fluke. He posted a career best 38 wins leading the Bruins to the best record in the league. Thompson only let up a total of 98 goals which helped him win his first of four Vezina Trophies.
Cecil “Tiny” Thompson played for Boston for 10 plus seasons before being shipped over to Detroit early in the ’38-’39 season. The Bruins brought in heir apparent, Frank Brimsek to play between the pipes.
Thompson had a stellar career in Boston by winning 252 games and 74 shutouts which are both bests in franchise history. He made his biggest mark by backstopping the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup championship.
Cecil Thompson was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1959.
2. Gerry Cheevers - Gerry “Cheesey” Cheevers was drafted by Boston in 1965. By the ’67-’68, Cheevers became the Bruins #1 goaltender. That season, Cheevers won 23 games in 47 games.
During the ’69-’70 season, Cheevers and Eddie Johnston led the Bruins to their first Cup since the ’40-’41 season. “Cheesey” won 24 of his 41 starts with a 2.74 GAA. In the playoffs, Cheevers played at the top of the game when it counted most. He recorded an incredible 12-1 record with a 2.23 GAA as the Bruins defeated the St. Louis Blues for their fourth title.
After a strong ’70-’71 season, the Bruins and Cheevers had an early exit in the playoffs. He followed up his 27 win season with another 27 win season during the ’7-’71-‘72 campaign. During that season, he went undefeated in 33 consecutive games which is a NHL record that still stands today.
Cheevers (8-6-2) and Eddie Johnston (6-1) were a dynamic duo again leading the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Finals yet again. Boston would go on to defeat the New York Rangers four games to two for their second title in three years.
Gerry Cheevers then bolted from Boston for the new league on the block, the WHA. He continued his stellar play with the Cleveland Crusaders. However, after a contract dispute during the ’76 season, he returned to Boston.
Cheevers would have a new netminding partner in Gilles Gilbert after the retirement of Eddie Johnston. The duo would have their best season together during the ’79-’80 season where they both finished as runner ups in Vezina Trophy voting.
Gerry “Cheesey” Cheevers retired as a Boston Bruin. He is currently the third all time in wins with 229, falling one win short of Frank Brimsek who is sitting in second. Cheevers turned it on in the playoffs; he leads the Bruins in career post season wins with 53 and shutouts with eight. He was an integral part of a Boston Bruins team that captured two Stanley Cups and fell just short in ’74.
Gerry Cheevers was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985.
1. Frank Brimsek – Frank “Mr. Zero” Brimsek was signed by the Bruins in prior to the ’38-’39 season to replace legend, Tiny Thompson. He did not disappoint his first regular season. He won 33 of the 43 games he played in. Of those 33 victories, 10 came way of the shutout and the “Mr. Zero” nickname was born.
Brimsek’s stellar rookie season continued in the playoffs. He went 8-4 and led the Boston franchise to their second Stanley Cup Title. For his freshman campaign, Brimsek walked away with the Calder Trophy.
After a successful sophomore campaign (31 wins in 48 games with a 1.99 GAA) in ’39-‘40, Brimsek helped the Bruins make another Stanley Cup run the following season. “Mr. Zero” posted 27 wins and 8 playoff victories in route to another Stanley Cup championship in Beantown. Beside the Cup, Brimsek walked with another piece of hardware, the Vezina Trophy (which he won twice in his career).
During wartime, some of Brimsek’s teammates were called into service. He singlehandedly carried the Bruins into the playoffs with his all world play. In 1943, Brimsek would answer the call and serve in the U.S. Coast Guard.
Brimsek returned to the Bruins during the ’45-’46 season. He would go on to play in Boston until the ’48-’49 season when he was then traded to Chicago.
Frank “Mr. Zero” Brimsek, arguably one of the best American born netkeepers ever, accumulated 230 career regular season wins and 35 shutouts. Both of these stats are good for second all time in Boston Bruins history. He also hoisted up the Stanley Cup twice in his career.
Frank Brimsek was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966.
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