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Chicago’s Finnish phenom to get first NHL start on Wednesday

Nov 26, 2013, 5:39 PM EDT

AnttiRaanta Getty Images

The Blackhawks have announced that Antti Raanta — the reigning Finnish league MVP — will make his first NHL start on Wednesday when Chicago takes on the Flames in Calgary.

Raanta, 24, is currently serving as Corey Crawford‘s backup with Nikolai Khabibulin on IR. The Finnish netminder has yet to make an NHL start but will get a shot tomorrow, as Crawford has played in 15 consecutive games.

(Raanta did make his NHL debut in relief of Crawford on Nov. 19, during a 5-1 loss to Colorado.)

Raanta signed with Chicago in June after lighting up the Finnish league last season. He backstopped Assat to the ’13 SM-liiga championship (capturing the Jari Kurri Trophy, Finland’s equivalent to the Conn Smythe), and that came after he posted a 1.33 GAA and .955 save percentage during the regular season, winning the league’s top goaltender award and MVP.

In August, goalie coach Jaakko Rosendahl raved about Raanta’s presence and mental approach, and Raanta’s looked good for Rockford this season, posting a 7-5-0 record with a 2.83 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage.

  1. prd797 - Nov 26, 2013 at 5:57 PM

    Sigh, I hate to mention it again, but Rosendahl is not the Chicago goalie coach. The ESPN story in your linked article from a few months ago says as much.

    “Assat Pori goaltending coach Jaakko Rosendahl has never come across a goaltender as unique as the Chicago Blackhawks’ Antti Raanta.”

    • Mike Halford - Nov 26, 2013 at 6:09 PM

      Sorry, typo. Was meant to just read “goalie coach.” It’s been fixed.

  2. 19to77 - Nov 26, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    I really don’t understand why they bothered with Khabby. Seasoning Raanta in the AHL for a year sounded good on paper, that part makes sense. But throwing $2m at an aging goalie who looked bad on a bottom-10 team last year and expecting anything other than disappointment, that I just don’t follow – especially for a team that was forced to lose some important role-players to the cap this summer. How many ‘Hawks fans would sooner have retained Frolik? I imagine somewhere between “almost all of them” and “yeah, all of them.”

    • hammerhead5573 - Nov 26, 2013 at 7:32 PM

      Definitely, a poor decision. With all they have done right, signing Khabby was not one of them. I would suspect Hawk fans did not see the impact of losing Frolik. I, myself liked the guy, but he was snake bitten in Chicago, he really didn’t score much even though he had opportunities. With that said he was absolutely fearless on penalty kill and obviously is missed now. What are they 29th in the league on PK? Yuk!

  3. chiraq11 - Nov 26, 2013 at 6:43 PM

    Pretty sure he already relieved Crawford in the 1st against the Avs last week.

    • 19to77 - Nov 26, 2013 at 6:47 PM

      In fairness, Halford said “first career start,” not “first career game.”

  4. comeonnowguys - Nov 27, 2013 at 8:59 AM

    Crawford needs some rest, bad. Especially if he winds up making Team Canada. (Doubtful, imo, but you never know)

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