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NHL Chicago Blackhawks

The Hardest Stretch is Over for Chicago Blackhawks Goalie Antti Raanta

Antti Raanta

Mike Strasinger-USA TODAY Sports

For the Chicago Blackhawks, the NHL’s points leading team, the schedule has not been friendly to begin the season. A large reason why was the seven games in eleven days circus trip where the team lost forward Bryan Bickell to a leg injury.

Soon after the team also lost goaltender Corey Crawford to a lower body injury, forcing the promotion of Antti Raanta who began the season as the team’s third string goaltender. However, in his place Raanta has proven to be not only a pleasant surprise, but just the goaltender scouts projected him to be farther along in his career.

Raanta has played in nine NHL games thus far, allowing 2.41 goals per game, good enough for a .915 save percentage. His 6-1 record has kept the Blackhawks atop the NHL in wins with 25 and has improved the team to 55 points in a league high 37 games.

When Crawford went down during the midst of a brutal schedule, it was unclear not only when he would return but if the Blackhawks could rely on Raanta for long stretches of time. Not only has Raanta proven he’s a NHL ready goalie, but his conditioning has proven to survive the worst part of the schedule.

Per Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Blackhawks only have four road games in the next 35 days to go along with two home games during the next nine days. This means Raanta will undoubtedly be in net until Corey Crawford — who should begin skating shortly — returns to the ice. In the meantime it is still Raanta’s crease, and while the schedule lightens the wins should continue to add up as the Blackhawks look for their second straight Presidents Trophy.

Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486