Antti Raanta confident in filling void for Blackhawks

Antti Raanta confident in filling void for Blackhawks

December 9, 2013, 3:45 pm
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Antti Raanta was as concerned as any of the Chicago Blackhawks when starting goaltender Corey Crawford was injured on Sunday night.

No, it doesn’t sound like it’s a serious injury, although Crawford is not making the trip to Dallas for Tuesday night’s game. Still, Crawford will be sidelined for at least one game, perhaps a few more. With that, the goaltending onus falls on Raanta, who is confident he can fill the void.

So are the rest of the Blackhawks.

Raanta performed well in relief of Crawford, stopping 29 of 31 shots en route to a 6-2 victory over the Florida Panthers. For Raanta, it was another example of how he’s making his way in the NHL. For the Blackhawks, it was another exhibit of their backup goaltender performing well under pressure.

“It’s tough jumping in like that,” Patrick Sharp said. “But he made some big saves and was solid all night.”

[MORE: Blackhawks recall goaltender Kent Simpson, place Bryan Bickell on IR]

It’s pretty safe to bet Raanta will start Tuesday in Dallas. It will be his sixth overall appearance (fourth start) for the Blackhawks. Coach Joel Quenneville has liked what he’s seen from the 24-year-old so far.

“He’s done a good job,” he said. “He’s played some games now, we’ve seen him a little more and he’s doing what we want him to do.”

Raanta’s just rolled with the changes. He was doing that again on Sunday night, hurriedly getting ready as Crawford came off with 6:15 remaining in the first period.

“I just try to get my mind into the game and focus on the right things like that,” he said following Sunday’s victory. “I got a couple saves late in the first, got my mind in the game. But of course, it’s not the nicest thing to go (in for an injured teammate) like that.”

This is where the Blackhawks are until Crawford returns. When exactly that will be is uncertain; Quenneville should update Crawford’s status at Tuesday morning’s skate. But for now, Raanta should be fine dealing with the pressure.