Hawks’ Antti Raanta redirecting his hunger into practice
BY MARK LAZERUS Staff Reporter January 14, 2014 10:01PM
2013-2014 Chicago Blackhawks Headshots
Updated: January 15, 2014 11:05AM
Backup goalie Antti Raanta played 12 games in a 24-day span to close out December. But in the 14 days since, he has played only twice. The transition from No. 1 to No. 2 means less time on the ice in games and more time on the ice in practices.
‘‘Of course, you want to play as much as possible, but you just have to keep pushing hard in practice so you can keep a good feeling and good thoughts on the ice,’’ Raanta said. ‘‘It’s not the easiest [thing], but I’m really happy to be here and happy to have a chance even to battle for NHL playing time.’’
Raanta improved to 12-1-3 with Sunday’s 5-3 win over the Oilers. But he admitted to feeling the rust of nine days off, and that it took him some time to get into a rhythm.
‘‘Maybe that was [why] they scored on the first shot,’’ Raanta said. ‘‘That gave me a little bit of a bad feeling.’’
But he recovered, allowing just one goal the rest of the way; Patrick Kane’s own-goal didn’t count against Raanta’s stats.
‘‘That was the first time that somebody scores on me when I’m on the bench,’’ Raanta joked.
Raanta likely will be sent down to Rockford to stay sharp during the Feb. 8-22 break for the Olympics. For now, he’ll get on the ice a little earlier and stay on a little later, working with goaltender coach Steve Weeks during practices and morning skates until his next chance between the pipes.
‘‘He’s handled it great,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said. ‘‘Every day he’s on the ice, he wants to be great and he wants to stop every puck. His attitude’s great.’’