Who are the best goalies in Bruins history? Ranking the Top 10
As with the Top 10 all-time list of Bruins defensemen, the list of all-time Bruins goalies is rich with elite performers, Hall of Fame players and Stanley Cup winners.
Some like Tim Thomas and Byron Dafoe had all-too-brief stays in Boston while others like Tiny Thompson and Frank Brimsek are known as some of the best to ever play the position.
Others like Gerry Cheevers were iconic for both their personalities and the Stanley Cup wins on their résumés as well. Interestingly, there is also Tuukka Rask with a growing, impressive list of career numbers and accomplishments with the Black and Gold during his 10-plus years in the Original Six organization.
Here is the all-time Top 10 list of Bruins goalies:
10. Eddie Johnston
Eddie Johnston was a two-time Cup winner in Boston as the backup to Gerry Cheevers and Eddie the Eagle put up some strong numbers over the course of his 11-year run in Black and Gold. Johnston finished with an 182-192-54 record with the Bruins with a .900 save percentage and a 3.22 goals against average.
Johnston finished with 27 shutouts over the course of his 11 years and had one of his best seasons for a terrible Bruins team in 1963-64 when he finished with an 18-40-12 record along with a .914 save percentage and a 3.01 goals against average. He received Hart Trophy votes that year, which tells you how bad the Bruins must have been at that time.
9. Jim Henry
The man that replaced Frank Brimsek in Boston had a brief career in Boston with just four years played for the Bruins. But Henry had an excellent first season where he was an All-Star and Hart Trophy finalist and finished with a 93-99-44 record for the B's during his career.
The career 2.53 goals against average was pretty strong and he made an amazing 305 saves in nine playoff games for the Bruins during the 1953 postseason. Henry is eighth on Boston's all-time goaltender list with 24 shutouts in his career.
8. Gilles Gilbert
Gilbert backstopped the Bruins during a tumultuous time after Gerry Cheevers had bolted for the WHA, and he was excellent for the teams that followed the Orr Era Cup teams. In fact, Gilbert came to Boston in a trade with the Minnesota North Stars that sent Cup stalwart Fred Stanfield to Minnesota.
Gilbert finished with a 155-73-39 record with a 2.95 goals against average and .890 save percentage over seven years in Boston and essentially formed a partnership with Cheevers once he returned from the WHA. Gilbert was eventually traded to the Detroit Red Wings for Rogie Vachon, who had a couple of years in Boston as a backup at the end of his Hall of Fame career.
7. Byron Dafoe
It was only a five-year run for Dafoe in Boston, but he was excellent for the Bruins during that time after arriving along with Dmitri Khristich in a trade with the L.A. Kings. Dafoe finished with a 132-104-40 record for the Bruins from 1997-2002 and was a Vezina Trophy finalist in 1998-99 with a 32-23-11 record along with a .926 save percentage, 2.00 goals against average and an impressive 10 shutouts.
But just like that, Lord Byron was gone in free agency when it was time to get paid by the Bruins and he was out of the league a couple of years later after signing on with the Atlanta Thrashers. His departure eventually ushered the way for a remarkable time of stability where Andrew Raycroft, Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask have been the goalies of note for almost 20 years.
6. Andy Moog
A part of the goaltending tandem that pushed the Bruins to Stanley Cup Final berths in 1988 and 1990, Moog finished his career with the Bruins at 136-75-36 over six years in Boston. The .886 career save percentage and 3.06 goals against average are more indicative of the era that Moog played in during his time in Boston, but he teamed with Reggie Lemelin to be an extremely effective duo in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Moog and Lemelin won the Jennings Trophy in the 1989-90 hockey season and Moog was 13-7-0 with a 2.21 goals against average and .909 save percentage during Boston’s run to the Cup Final in the 1990 playoffs.
5. Tuukka Rask
The best regular-season goaltender in Bruins history, Rask has won more games (291), made more saves (13,711) and has the best save percentage (.922) of any goalie in Bruins franchise history. Rask has one Vezina Trophy and NHL All-Star selection on his résumé in a standout 2013-14 regular season and has led the Bruins to a pair of Stanley Cup Final appearances in 2013 and 2019.
Rask was amazing in the 2019 postseason with a 15-9-0 record and a .934 save percentage and would have been the Conn Smythe winner had the Bruins come out in top in Game 7. But Rask is going to need to win the big game and take home a Stanley Cup as the No. 1 guy for him to rise higher up on these rankings. The numbers are piling up for him, though.
4. Gerry Cheevers
Cheesy Cheevers was the goalie most associated with the Bobby Orr Era Stanley Cup teams of the 1970s and rightfully so in his Hall of Fame career spent predominantly in Boston. Cheevers played with his trademark goalie mask with the painted stitches all over it and finished with a 226-103-76 record for the Bruins along with his two Stanley Cup wins in 1970 and 1972.
The 2.89 goals against average and .901 save percentage were solid career numbers for Cheevers and it should be remembered that he lost four of his best NHL seasons after opting to play in the WHA before returning to the Bruins in 1975. Had he remained in Boston for that time period, his already strong career numbers would be truly astounding.
3. Tim Thomas
A two-time All-Star, two-time Vezina Trophy winner and Stanley Cup winner along with winning the Conn Smythe in 2011, Thomas had a shorter career than some of the other Bruins goalies on the list. But he burned brightly while he donned the Black and Gold. Thomas finished with a 196-121-45 record in eight years with the Bruins and had arguably the best single season by any goalie in Bruins history in 2011. He finished with regular season with a .938 save percentage and nine shutouts, and then followed that with a 16-9-0 record and a .940 save percentage during the 2011 Stanley Cup playoff run.
Thomas eventually ended things badly with the Bruins after refusing to visit the White House in 2012 for politically ideological reasons, and probably fell short of Hockey Hall of Fame worthiness because of the missed seasons at the end of his career. But at his best, Timmy the Tank Thomas was an awesome goaltender.
2. Frank Brimsek
A two-time Stanley Cup winner, eight-time All-Star, two-time Vezina Trophy winner and Hall of Fame goaltender, Brimsek was the star goalie right along with the Kraut Line in the 1940s for the Bruins. Brimsek burst onto the scene as a 23-year-old rookie with 10 shutouts in his first season to earn the Calder Trophy and Vezina Trophy, and then never stopped for nine years while posting a 230-144-70 record with a 2.57 goals against average along with 35 shutouts.
Brimsek was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks for cash at the very end of his career and played one season for the Blackhawks before retiring after a decade in the NHL.
1. Tiny Thompson
A Hall of Famer, a four-time Vezina Trophy winner, four-time NHL All-Star and a Stanley Cup winner in his rookie NHL season with the Bruins at 25 years old, Tiny Thompson was the best of the best in his era of the NHL. Thompson finished with a 252-153-63 record over his 11-year career with the Bruins where he posted a 1.99 goals against average along with 74 career shutouts.
Those two career numbers with the Bruins aren’t likely to ever be broken in this day and age of goaltender, and show just how great he was in that throwback era of Old Time Hockey. Thompson was traded to Detroit at the very end of his NHL career, but he’ll forever be associated with goaltending greatness in Boston.