"I hope he breaks my record," says Cheevers, "but I'm not letting his streak affect my rotation." Thus, last week Cheevers gave backup Goalie Marco Baron what figured to be the easier start against Hartford while saving Peeters for Sunday's game with tougher Buffalo.
Peeters, who received 158 of a possible 165 votes by the hockey writers who picked the teams for Tuesday's All-Star Game, at week's end had the lowest goals-allowed average in the league (2.16) and led the NHL in save percentage (.909) and in shutouts (seven). He's almost certain to break the Bruins' record for shutouts—the great Terry Sawchuk had nine in 1955-56.
Peeters, 25, is deceptively slow-talking and sleepy-eyed. In fact, teammate Mike Milbury called him Gomer Pyle until a dramatic outburst of temper caused a hurried change of nickname. Late in an Oct. 21 game in Peeters' native Edmonton, with the Bruins leading 5-0, he gave up a pair of seemingly meaningless goals, but on each he claimed to have been interfered with by Edmonton forwards. When Referee Ron Hoggarth ignored Peeters for the second time, he charged out of his net, threw his gloves at the ref and screamed, "If you think it's so much fun playing goal, then you play it!" He was thrown out of the game.
"Now we call him Doc," explains Crowder. "as in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."
So far the Bruins have seen a lot more of the gentlemanly Dr. Jekyll than the demonic Mr. Hyde. After a shutout, Peeters will circulate around the Bruins' dressing room and thank his teammates individually for their defensive efforts. But it was the Hyde side that brought him to Boston in the first place.
Toward the end of last season in Philadelphia, the Flyers attended that city's hockey writers' annual dinner and roast at a time when Peeters was brooding over what appeared to be a delayed sophomore slump (his goals-against average would end up a disappointing 3.71). A writer playing the role of Peeters appeared on stage with a red goal-judge's light in his mouth. The next day, when the writer came into the Flyers' dressing room, Peeters and two teammates stripped him, dragged him into the shower and inserted a red bulb in such a way as to give him a taillight. The writer dropped plans to file charges when Peeters, cooling off, apologized. The only thing Peeters will say now about the incident is, "Coming on top of my bad year, I knew Yd be traded."
With Boston, Peeters has regained his rookie form. "He does more than stop the puck," says veteran Defenseman Brad Park, "he breaks up plays and he gets the puck up to us. The guy is like a third defenseman."
Peeters learned his freewheeling style in 1979-80 from the Flyer goalie coach at the time, Jacques Plante, who had been the roving net-minder of the extraordinary Montreal teams of the '50s. Plante did not see the goalie's crease as a kind of Maginot Line. He persuaded Peeters that his job was not only to stop shots but, wherever possible, to stop shooting opportunities.
On Thursday, while the Bruins' dogged checking held Quebec's high-scoring Stastny brothers to a total of three shots on goal, Peeters repeatedly short-circuited the Nordiques' tic-tac-toe passing by intercepting their centering plays and poke-checking pucks away from their forwards. At one point, with the Bruins clinging to a 4-3 lead, he jabbed the puck off the stick of top-scorer Peter Stastny before Stastny could get off a shot.
Peeters' flashy play sometimes causes observers to overlook what his defensemen are doing in front of him, which is allowing opponents only about eight shots on goal per period. Chief among them is 22-year-old Raymond Bourque. "How good is Raymond?" says Cheevers, who has a stable of thoroughbred horses. "Raymond's so strong and fast I'd like to see him go a mile and a half on the turf in a stakes race." "I can't believe what he does with his passes," adds Peeters. "He threads the puck through legs and feathers it over sticks."