CALGARY, AB - NOVEMBER 27: Antti Raanta #31 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrates after a victory over the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on November 27, 2013 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Blackhawks defeated the Flames 3-2. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
After the Chicago Blackhawks’ morning skate in Philadelphia on Tuesday, it appears as though goaltender Antti Raanta will be making the start against the Flyers when the two teams square off in a pivotal game.
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) March 18, 2014
Raanta, who sports a sparkling 12-3-3 record with a 2.44 GAA and a .904 save percentage, has only played once since the Olympic break ended, and he looked pretty rusty against the Colorado Avalanche last week, allowing a couple of soft goals early as the Hawks fell to their divisional rival for the fourth time in five games this season.
Despite that letdown, head coach Joel Quenneville is making a calculated choice in putting Raanta in net against the Flyers. The Blackhawks have a game on Wednesday night against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. As well as the Flyers have been playing lately, the Blues have been even hotter thanks to new goaltender Ryan Miller and the efforts of several key offensive players.
With all of those things to consider (as well as the fact that the Hawks are in the midst of a stretch in which they’ll play four games in six days), Quenneville had to rest Corey Crawford at some point, and doing so in Philadelphia in a non-conference game seems to make the most sense. Raanta has largely been good against the Eastern Conference this season, including a nice performance in the Hawks’ 7-2 win over Philadelphia back in December, and he will surely be looking to rebound from his poor performance on Wednesday night.