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Greatest Pittsburgh Penguins Goaltenders of All Time

James ConleyContributor IIIOctober 10, 2011

Greatest Pittsburgh Penguins Goaltenders of All Time

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    Consider the Pittsburgh Penguins. One thinks of a history of offense, carried by such premier scorers as Jaromir Jagr, Ron Francis, Sidney Crosby, Paul Coffey, Evgeni Malkin and Mario Lemieux.

    The team has also had its share of all-star defensemen, headlined by Coffey, Ulf Samuelsson, Sergei Gonchar, Larry Murphy and the emerging Kris Letang.

    But goaltenders? The Penguins have had great goaltending—and would not have captured three Stanley Cups without it. But the names don't jump like the names of those Hall of Fame forwards.

    Still, Pittsburgh has its history of good goaltending, and these names are among those who helped the team to capture its three championships.

8. Les Binkley

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    Les Binkley was the first goaltender in Penguins' franchise history. He enjoyed his best season in the Penguins' inaugural 1967-68 campaign, posting 20 wins with a 2.88 GAA.

    Binkley also posted a 5-2 record in the 1969-70 postseason, allowing 15 goals in seven games.

    Though Binkley spent only four seasons in the NHL and each with the Penguins, he played a pivotal position on the teams that helped to bring NHL hockey to Pittsburgh.

7. Patrick Lalime

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    Though Patrick Lalime spent only one season with the team, his short time there was sensational.

    Lalime joined the Penguins during the 1996-97, when he set an NHL record for most games played without a loss to begin a career (14-0-2). He posted his first NHL shutout during that span, a 4-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks and enjoyed a 49-save win over Calgary in that same stretch.

    Lalime posted a 21-12-2 record with the Penguins that season and also appeared as a backup for five postseason games. He'd move on to several teams afterward with varying degrees of success, but none so great as his first stint with the Penguins.

6. Frank Pietrangelo

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    When you make a play that becomes known simply as "The Save," you deserve a place on this list and in all discussions of great Penguins goaltenders.

    Frank Pietrangelo played only as backup to Barrasso, but his save in that game against the Devils helped the Penguins avoid elimination en route to their first Stanley Cup title.

5. Ty Conklin

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    When Sidney Crosby went down with a high-ankle sprain during the 2007-08 season, it was Evgeni Malkin who took the reigns as scoring leader.

    It's often forgotten that during that same span, Ty Conklin assumed the role for the injured Marc-Andre Fleury, also out with an ankle injury.

    Conklin played admirably in that span, helping the Penguins earn the East's second seed en route to their first Stanley Cup berth since 1992. He was seen as a major downgrade in Fleury's absence, allowing three goals (and a 9.00 GAA) in his first action with the team during an 8-2 rout by the Flyers. However, Conklin slowly took control, stealing starts from incumbent backup Dany Sabourin and staking the Penguins to their first Atlantic Division title.

    Conklin would win his first nine starts with the team and go on to post an 18-8-5 record that spring, as well as a franchise-best .923 save percentage (with at least 30 games played).

    Perhaps his biggest contribution was said to be to Marc-Andre Fleury's development as a starter, which was fast-tracked once Conklin made his own case to be the team's starter. Though Conklin joined Detroit the next season, he was a huge part of the spring run of 2008 that eventually led the Penguins to the first finals appearance in almost 20 years.

4. Johan Hedberg

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    Johan Hedberg played parts of only three seasons in Pittsburgh, and suffered with the team through some of their worst years from 2001-03.

    However, Hedberg was sensational as a late acquisition in the 2000-01 season and 2001 playoffs. Hedberg compiled a 7-1-1 regular season record before helping to carry the Penguins through three rounds of the postseason.

    Hedberg went 9-9 in 18 postseason games, posting a 2.30 GAA and .911 save percentage before the Penguins were eliminated by the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals.

    It was with Pittsburgh that he earned the nickname "the Moose." He joined the team while still wearing a blue mask adorned with a moose (from his time with the Manitoba Moose), a trademark that stuck as Hedberg won seven of his first nine games with the team and carried them through the postseason.

3. Ken Wregget

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    Wregget came to the Penguins from the Flyers in 1993 as part of the deal that sent Mark Recchi to Philadelphia. Though he spent most of his Penguins career as a backup to Tom Barrasso, he played a pivotal role at points, filling in for Barrasso during periods of extended absence.

    He enjoyed his best season in 1994-95, filling in for the injured Barrasso and recording a 25-9-2 record. His 25 wins were the most in the NHL that season.

    Wregget appeared in 212 games with the Penguins, recording a 104-67-21 record with a Penguins career-best .905 save percentage in 1995-96. He also tallied a 13-12 postseason record with the Penguins.

    While Wregget never took hold as the bona fide starter, he did enough to become one of the most recognizable names of the Penguins teams of the 1990s.

2. Marc-Andre Fleury

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    Frank Pietrangelo may have "The Save," but Marc-Andre Fleury's Secret Service save on Nicklas Lidstrom in the final seconds of the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals might be the biggest single save in Penguins' history.

    The former first-overall pick (and only one of two goaltenders drafted first overall in the last four decades) is a member of the Penguins "core," also consisting of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Brooks Orpik and Kris Letang.

    Fleury may be the first Penguins goaltender to begin and end his career with the team, depending on his contract status following the expiration of his current deal in a few years.

    So far, he has rewarded management's decision to trade up and spend a first-overall selection on a junior goaltender, helping to bring home a title in 2009 and contributing to five straight postseason appearances, currently the third-longest streak in the NHL.

    Fleury's numbers, while sometimes inconsistent, have been very good. Fleury trails only Tom Barrasso in a number of franchise records, and will attain a number of those records in the next season or two.

    At just 26 and with a few years left on his current contract, Fleury will be the runaway leader in all Penguins' goaltending records before his career is over.

1. Tom Barasso

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    Tom Barrasso's list of accomplishments stretch further than his Stanley Cups won in 1991 and 1992, the first titles in Penguins' history.

    Barrasso won the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie in 1984, as well as the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goaltender, and was named to the NHL First All-Star Team. He appeared in two more All-Star Games (1985, 1993), shared the 1985 William M. Jennings Trophy (club with fewest goals allowed) and won a Silver Medal with the 2002 U.S. Olympic Team.

    He's got the second-most wins by a U.S.-born goaltender in NHL history (369) and was the first U.S. goaltender to reach 300 in 1997, as a member of the Penguins. Barrasso is first all-time among goaltenders in points and assists, 48 each.

    His playoff numbers are also excellent. Barrasso shares the league record with 16 victories in a single postseason (1992), as well as the most consecutive postseason victories (14 straight from 1992-93) and tied for the most consecutive wins in one postseason (11 in 1992).

    Barrasso is also the franchise leader in a number of goaltending categories. He leads all Penguins goalies in games played (416), victories (226), shutouts (22), single-season victories (43 in 1992-93), single-season shutouts (7 in 1997-98) and GAA (2.07 in 1997-98).

    Marc-Andre Fleury appears to be the only goaltender capable of matching Barrasso's franchise marks, and may match several of those marks with a career year in 2011-12. Fleury trails Barrasso by 40 victories, 47 games played, three shutouts and one Stanley Cup.

    If Fleury can enjoy a dominant year like Barrasso enjoyed in 1992 and 1993, he'll begin cracking a number of Barrasso's franchise records before we know it.

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