Tuesday night’s battle between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Dallas Stars brought Antti Raanta center stage to be put to the test in the crease as the new no. 1 netminder. With Corey Crawford tragically out for a few weeks with a lower-body injury and Nikolai Khabibulin still likewise afflicted, Raanta is going to be in the no. 1 position for at least 10 games.
Having Crawford out is enough to make anyone jealous. It puts the Hawks in a really tight spot, having two injured goalies and limited options to backup Raanta. At the time Raanta went into the net on Tuesday, he had only three NHL starts under his belt.
Raanta had an incredible game, allowing only two goals on a mere 27 shots. He is setting up a great precedent for the time he will spend defending Chicago’s net. Raanta is proving to be great at making saves, so how about a new nickname? I think the Finish Flocka Blocka has a nice ring to it.
Will Raanta be able to pull it off? Coach Joel Quenneville seems to have a great deal of confidence with the rookie net minder, and that confidence seems to be growing with each subsequent test Raanta is put to between the posts. Coach Q is a pretty good judge of skill, so it is always nice to hear him lend his vote of confidence to a player, but it is especially comforting when that player is now the team’s one and only netminder.
Raanta has been impressive in the net thus far, and Chicago fans are hoping that he can step up and continue to carry one of the most powerful offenses in the NHL. A great showing over the next few weeks by Raanta could mean excellent things for his career in the league.