Raanta to start in goal for Blackhawks against Avalanche
By Mark Lazerus Staff Reporter March 11, 2014 9:00PM
Updated: March 11, 2014 9:09PM
DENVER — Corey Crawford said he still has “a bitter taste” from the 4-2 loss to the Avalanche last Tuesday. He’ll have to wait until a potential playoff series to do something about it.
In a surprise move, Joel Quenneville said he’ll start Antti Raanta in the teams’ final regular-season meeting Wednesday. Raanta is 12-2-3 with a 2.40 goals-against average this season but hasn’t played since Jan. 28.
“We haven’t played him in a while, and he beat these guys [7-2 on Dec. 27],” Quenneville said.
Crawford has played every game since the Olympic break and said he feels good. But with a very busy March schedule, it was inevitable that Raanta would get some starts. The Hawks have back-to-back sets each of the next two weeks, too.
“It’s almost the same kind of relationship that me and [Ray] Emery had the last couple of years,” Crawford said. “We definitely push each other having that competition, but it’s a team game and we want to see the other guy do well. We just feed off each other.”
The Hawks’ top prospect, 19-year-old center Teuvo Teravainen, could be joining the Hawks soon. General manager Stan Bowman said earlier in the month that the Finnish star could come over when Jokerit’s season in Finland’s Liiga ended, and Quenneville reiterated it Tuesday.
“I’m expecting him to come here when their season’s done,” Quenneville said. “And we’ll see after that. There is a possibility if their season’s done, he could play here.”
Bowman said the possibility of Teravainen being picked to play in the world championships could affect that, but Quenneville said he believed Teravainen would come to Chicago regardless. Teravainen is seventh in the Liiga with 41 points (eight goals, 33 assists) in 43 games. Jokerit is in sixth place out of 14 teams.
Ben Smith saw time on the power play Sunday in Buffalo and acquitted himself well as a net-front presence.
“He did a good job when he did it down in Rockford,” Quenneville said. “He knows where to go in that role of being at the net, kind of like what [Andrew Shaw] does. It’s a commitment to getting a little bit of abuse, at the same time knowing exactly where to go. You position yourself square in front of the goalie, and he has that tendency to do the job. Short audition right now, but I think he’s OK with it.”
Marian Hossa is moving closer to returning to the lineup, perhaps this weekend. Hossa suffered an upper-body injury in the Soldier Field game March 1, and Wednesday will be the fourth consecutive game he’s missed.
“Hoss is doing much better,” Quenneville said. “I think he’s going to get on the ice [Wednesday] while we’re gone. It’s going to be on his own here. We’ll get a better idea when we get him together with our team, but I don’t think he’s too far away.”