While the matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night was an impressive showdown between the league’s best offense and defense respectively, it was much more than that.
Only one goal was allowed, and it was scored on the Kings by Brandon Saad. Antti Raanta, who was between the posts for the Blackhawks, did not allow a single puck to find the back of his net, even making a save on a penalty shot. This is incredible for a rookie who has been in the net consistently for a little over a month.
He now sits with a 2.21 GAA, and it almost seems like he was attempting to redeem himself for his uncharacteristic performance against the St. Louis Blues a few nights earlier.
When Raanta first made an appearance in the net for Chicago, he was relatively unknown and fairly untested. While he had spent the earlier part of the season with the AHL affiliate of the Blackhawks in Rockford, it is hard to measure how successful a goalie will be when they see NHL ice time. However, Raanta has delivered and shown that the Blackhawks have some very talented scouts.
He will remain with the team as Corey Crawford begins to make his return to the net after suffering a lower body injury. Nikolai Khabibulin seems to be making no signs of returning and lets face it, that could be for the best.
Raanta has been there to make some of those clutch save that the team could not have won without. He is an extremely talented goalie and Chicago would be wise to keep him happy where he is, but obviously being a second-string goalie will not fit the bill forever.
In the meantime, Raanta is a calming presence to have supporting Crawford. After a disastrous start with backup goalies this season, that is just what the doctor ordered for the Blackhawks. Raanta has been a savior of sorts for the franchise, and hopefully they will remember that.