Ranking the Bruins' Top 10 individual playoff performances
With six Stanley Cups in their franchise history, the Boston Bruins have enjoyed plenty of epic postseason performances. Bobby Orr and Tim Thomas are Boston's only members of the Conn Smythe Trophy club since the award only came into existence in the mid-1960s, but there have been plenty of massive playoff performances from the Black and Gold. Some of them are an entire body of work in the postseason like the ridiculous 13 goals and 27 points that Phil Esposito put up in 1970 for the Bruins while losing out on the Conn Smythe to No. 4.
Some are individual performances like David Pastrnak’s three-goal, six-point game in 2018 that broke a Wayne Gretzky record for the youngest player to author that kind of a prolific game in the postseason. But all of them are greatness personified as big-time performers stepping up in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Here are the 10 best postseason performances in Boston Bruins franchise history:
10. Milt Schmidt (1941)
The legendary Bruins forward became known as a coach and an executive later in his time in Boston, but Milt was also a staggeringly great player in his day.
Schmidt was Boston’s best offensive player during the 1941 Stanley Cup run with five goals and 11 points in 11 games as a 22-year-old kid. While Frank Brimsek did his thing between the pipes as the most valuable Bruins player during that postseason run, it was Schmidt who provided the few goals the Bruins would need during those playoff series.
Schmidt was an unstoppable force during the Stanley Cup Final series vs. Detroit with three goals and seven points in the four-game sweep of the Red Wings.
9. David Pastrnak (2018)
David Pastrnak was thoroughly dominant in the first round series vs. the Maple Leafs in the 2018 postseason, but it was his three goals and six points along with a plus-5 rating in Boston’s 7-3 win over Toronto in Game 2 that made hockey history.
At 21 years old, Pastrnak became the youngest player to record a six-point playoff game, breaking a record set by none other than the Great One, Wayne Gretzky back in the 1980s. It was arguably the single most dominant playoff game by a Bruins player in the history of the organization and also served as a major announcement that the young right winger had arrived as a great player.
Pastrnak finished with five goals and 13 points in the seven-game series against the Maple Leafs with positively Esposito-like production numbers.
8. David Krejci (2013)
While other players like Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Zdeno Chara get more fanfare for the Boston Bruins during that core group's three Stanley Cup Final runs, Krejci has been the secret weapon in the postseason.
The playmaking center led all NHL players with a dominant 26 points in 22 games during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs while centering Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton, was a plus-13 in that postseason and played over 22 minutes a game through the four rounds of the postseason. Krejci dropped a hat trick on the Maple Leafs in a Game 4 overtime win that put the Bruins up 3-1 in that first-round series, and had a two-goal game vs. the Penguins that set the tone in their Eastern Conference Final sweep of Pittsburgh.
Krejci also led all NHL players in points during Boston’s 2011 run to the Stanley Cup as well, cementing his reputation as a big game player for the Bruins.
7. Frank Brimsek (1941)
Mister Zero was the biggest factor in winning the Cup for the 1941 Bruins while amassing an 8-3 record and a 2.03 goals against average.
Brimsek held opponents to one goal or fewer in six of his 11 playoff games that postseason and was at his best in the four-game sweep of the Red Wings during the Stanley Cup Final when he held Detroit to just six goals in four games. The eight-time All-Star and two-time Vezina Trophy winner made certain to play some of his best hockey at the most important time of year for Boston.
6. Tiny Thompson (1929)
The Bruins have enjoyed some amazing goaltending performances in the postseason throughout their nearly 100-year history, and Thompson was the one that set the tone for everybody else.
The Hall of Fame goalie allowed three goals in five games to win the Bruins' first Stanley Cup way, way back in 1929. Amazingly, Thompson didn’t lose a single game as the Bruins downed the Canadiens in a three-game series and then won a pair of games against the New York Rangers for the Stanley Cup.
Thompson still ranks seventh all-time in goals against average in NHL playoff history with a 1.876 career mark while he played in Boston from 1928 all the way to 1938, right around when Frank Brimsek was entering the scene.
5. Phil Esposito (1970)
Esposito didn’t win a Conn Smythe in either of the team's two Cup runs in the 1970s, but an argument could be made for him with the 1970 team.
Espo scored an amazing 13 goals and 27 points in 14 playoff games that spring and was a scoring machine against everybody, including his brother Tony, who played goaltender for the Blackhawks. Espo had six goals in six games during the first round against the Rangers and then torched his brother for five goals and nine points in a four-game sweep of Chicago in the second round.
Johnny Bucyk was the guy who stepped up and scored most of the goals against the Blues in the Stanley Cup Final, but Esposito was a super dominant force during the 1970 postseason.
4. Bobby Orr (1972)
The Bruins had an amazing six point-per-game players during the run to the 1972 Stanley Cup, and Orr was once again the Conn Smythe winner for that group. Orr finished with five goals and 24 points along with a plus-20 rating in 15 games while winning his second Conn Smythe Trophy.
He wasn’t quite as dominant as he’d been in the 1970 Stanley Cup Playoffs when he was a bit more of a goal-scoring force, but he saved his best for the final series against the Rangers when New York held Phil Esposito scoreless over six games. Orr erupted against the Blueshirts, scoring four of his five postseason goals along with eight points in the six-game series.
There was no flying goal like there was a couple of years prior against the Blues, but Orr was the guy driving the bus vs. New York for the Cup win.
3. Tim Thomas (2011)
Arguably the greatest season in modern NHL history for a goaltender, Thomas was truly special in that run to the 2011 Stanley Cup.
Thomas finished with a .940 save percentage that’s still an NHL record for the Stanley Cup Playoffs along with four shutouts in that postseason, including Game 7 shutouts in both the Eastern Conference Final and the Stanley Cup Final. Essentially, Thomas was perfect in the two biggest games of that postseason and basically wasn’t going to allow the Bruins to lose. He was that good.
Thomas is the NHL’s career leader in playoff save percentage with a .9326 mark that looks like it’s going to stand for quite some time. Thomas is also 13th all-time with a 2.081 goals against average in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Those are big, big numbers for the Conn Smythe winner.
2. Frank Brimsek (1939)
As a 23-year-old rookie, Brimsek burst on the scene with 10 shutouts and a 1.56 goals against average during the regular season before turning it up a notch for the Cup-winning Bruins in the 1939 Stanley Cup Playoffs while finishing 8-4 with a 1.25 goals against. In all, Brimsek allowed just 18 goals in the 12 playoff games it took for the B’s to capture the Cup.
Brimsek had only one shutout during the playoffs with a Game 4 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on the way to a five-game Cup win, but he allowed one goal or fewer in seven of the 12 games while suffocating the offenses of the New York Rangers and the Maple Leafs. It was a different era with fewer games and fewer opponents, but the Hall of Fame goalie was the dominant force for that Cup-winning edition of the Black and Gold.
1. Bobby Orr (1970)
Who else but the NHL’s greatest player during one of the most iconic runs to a Stanley Cup victory?
Orr finished with a ridiculous plus-24 in 14 games with nine goals and 20 points capped off by the flying goal in Game 4 of the Cup Final to sweep the St. Louis Blues. Perhaps even more amazing was the dominant 78 shots on net in 14 games from Orr on the back end, which is an average of almost six shots on net per game. That would be absolutely unheard of in today’s NHL in terms of fancy stats and shot production — and it points to exactly how dominating the speedy Orr was while dancing around everybody else on the ice.
The 21-year-old Orr was at his best in the opening round series when he piled up seven goals in six games against the Rangers, and then turned into more of a facilitator in the latter two rounds when the Bruins swept both the Blackhawks and Blues on the way to the Cup.