Pittsburgh Penguins Time Capsules: Most Villainous Playoff Goaltenders

New Jersey Devils, Martin Brodeur. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
New Jersey Devils, Martin Brodeur. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Penguins have faced some formidable foes in the playoffs through the years, but here is a look back at the goalies that caused the most pain, racked up wins, and stole some series along the way.

If you are a fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins then you will probably know the heroic names of Tom Barrasso, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Matt Murray. But for every hero, someone at the opposite end of the spectrum and in this case, the ice is waiting to oppose those mighty forces.

Here is a look back at some of the most villainous playoff opponents (goaltenders) of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Martin Brodeur

While Henrik Lundqvist (22), Braden Holtby (19), and Olaf Kolzig (18), appeared in more games vs, the Penguins, than Brodeur in the playoffs, no goalie secured as many wins for his team than the Hall-of-Fame goaltender.

Brodeur earned 11 wins and six losses in 17 games played (GP) vs. Pittsburgh with a goals-against-average (GAA) of 2.02 and two shutouts (SO).

Brodeur and New Jersey Devils faced off against the Penguins in three series from 1995-2001, with the Devils taking the win in two of three of their series vs. Pittsburgh.

Series Splits

  • 1995: 4-1 series win (8 GA)
  • 1999: 4-3 series loss (20 GA)
  • 2001: 4-1 series win (7 GA)

Overall, Brodeur made 343 saves on 378 shots and allowed 35 goals, making him one of the most heinous goaltenders the Penguins have faced in the postseason.

John Vanbiesbrouck

Although Vanbiesbrouck found himself on the losing end of two of three series vs. the Penguins, it was his performance in the 1996 playoffs and more specifically in the conference finals, that provided the perfect redemption arc for Vanbiesbrouck against the Penguins.

Series Splits:

  • 1989: 0-2 series loss ( 6 GA)
  • 1992: 0-4 (series loss (11 GA)
  • 1996: 4-3 series win (14 GA)

The 1995-96 Penguins looked like a team that was hell-bent on claiming their third Stanley Cup title until they ran into the underdog Florida Panthers and the strong play of “Beezer”.

Vanbiesbrouck was the MVP of series and made 210 saves on 224 shots, which was 80 more shots than New York and 61 more shots than Washington faced from the Penguins in the first and second rounds, with a GAA of 2.01 through the 7 game series.

Vanbiesbrouck came up clutch when the Panthers needed him the most and doused the fire that the Penguins set during their historical season, for that reason, he is one of the villainous goaltenders the Penguins faced.

Glenn Healy

Healy only needed one series to prove how deep his villainy runs, by backstopping the New York Islanders to one of the most painful defeats in Penguins history.

Healy led the underdog Islanders to a game 7 victory over Mario Lemieux and the rest of the Penguins in the second of the1993 playoffs. Healey derailed the Penguins attempt at earning the threepeat.

Healy came up big when he had to for the Islanders and gave the team the opportunity to stay competitive in the series when many had counted them out, specifically in games 4, 5, and 7.

While it was David Violek that hit the switch that ended the Penguins season, it was Healy that set the charge.

Healy made 183 saves on 208 shots and finished the series with a GAA of 3.69, in seven games, making him ALMOST as villainous as our final goaltender.

Tuukka Rask

It only took one series for Rask to solidify himself as the most villainous goalie the Penguins have faced in the playoffs.

Sure the losses to the Islanders in 1993, Panthers in 1996, and Capitals in 2018 stung more than Penguins 2013 Conference Finals loss to the Rask and the Bruins, but none of those series were consistently as frustrating.

Rask was simply unbeatable in the four-game set vs. Pittsburgh and turned away everything the Penguins threw at him.

As a hockey fan, it was amazing to watch such a complete suppression of a highly potent offense, but as a Penguins fan, it felt like a complete and utter waste of one of the best seasons the team put together.

The Penguins managed just two goals on 136 shots in the four games and were shut-out twice.

  • Game 1: 3-0
  • Game 2: 6-1
  • Game 3: 2-1 (2OT)
  • Game 4: 1-0

Rask finished the series with 0.44 GAA and the two goals scored against him represented the lowest goal total the Penguins ever scored in a playoff series and lowest since 1975.

Who do you think is the biggest villain goaltender to play against the Pittsburgh Penguins?

Drop them in the comment section below.