I have talked a lot about the Chicago Blackhawks and their goaltending situation. Sometimes, I feel that there is not a whole lot of perspective lent to how important a netminder is to a team. I do feel that Chicago fans truly learned that lesson, however, when they saw Nikolai Khabibulin between the posts earlier this season.
With that being said, the Blackhawks were placed in a tough situation a few weeks ago when Corey Crawford suffered a lower body injury. The initial prediction was that he would be out for at least 10 games. This devastating blow to the Blackhawks defense was met with an opportunity for Antti Raanta to appear between the posts.
And what a show it has been. Raanta has proven to be a beast in the net. His record is at 9-1-3 on the season. His goals against average is up a bit to 2.38 after Chicago’s shoot out loss to the St. Louis Blues, but his stats still rank above Crawford’s.
While Crawford has faced more games than Raanta has this season, the skills Raanta has been showing out on the ice have lead many to call him the future of Chicago’s goaltending.
So, is Raanta a part of the net minding scenario in Chicago? Is he out for Corey Crawford’s job? To this, I say no. First off, Crawford’s six-year, multi-million dollar contract extension, that was agreed upon at the start of the season, will keep him nestled up in Chicago as the highest paid goalie in the NHL. But, just to clarify, Crawford is worth what he is being paid. He proved himself between the posts during the playoffs and has continued to be an excellent force between the posts.
Do I think Raanta is talented? Well, of course I do. Is he going to replace Crawford? Not a chance. I do think the two will make a wonderful combination as alternating net minders out on the ice, but as stated previously, Raanta has a few things left to learn and Crawford is far from beyond his glory days.
The goaltending situation on Chicago will continue to be a topic of interest as Crawford eases back into the game. He has been out on the ice practicing and traveling with the team, and could return as early as next week.