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Antti Raanta staying sharp just in case

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Best of seven * if necessary


Kings 1
at Hawks 3


7 p.m. Wednesday
at Hawks, NBCSN


7 p.m. Saturday
at Kings, Ch. 5


8 p.m. Monday
at Kings, NBCSN

GAME 5 if necessary

7 p.m. May 28
at Hawks, NBCSN

GAME 6 if necessary

8 p.m. May 30
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GAME 7 if necessary

7 p.m. June 1
at Hawks, NBCSN

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Updated: June 23, 2014 3:58PM

Nobody wants to see Antti Raanta in net during these playoffs. Not Blackhawks fans. Not Joel Quenneville. Not even Raanta himself.

“You never hope that somebody gets hurt,” the Hawks’ backup goalie said Tuesday.

But it happens. And Canadiens goalie Carey Price’s series-ending injury is a reminder of just how close Raanta is to being thrust into the net on the biggest stage imaginable and just how important every practice is.

“You can’t prepare enough,” Raanta said. “You just have to keep working harder in practice and try to be the better goalie in practice and keep battling with [Corey Crawford] in practice so you can maybe get your confidence higher.”

Raanta hasn’t played since April 12, and he has made just six appearances in the last 16 weeks. But he has been on the ice nearly ­every day to stay sharp, working with David Rundblad, Klas Dahlbeck and other scratches for about 30 or 40 minutes on days the Hawks don’t practice as a team. Raanta also has spent countless hours with goaltender coach Steve Weeks breaking down video of the 25-year-old Finn’s performances — good and bad.

Raanta said that he’s “learned something new every day” and that he’s ready to step in, if necessary.

“Oh, yeah, for sure,” he said. “When you practice with these guys, it’s a game for you. If you can keep these guys to a minimum of goals in practice, I think you’re going to be OK in the game, also.”

Raanta held down the fort admirably in December when Crawford was injured but struggled down the stretch as his starts dwindled. He chalked up some of that to mental fatigue from a long season that began in Finland. He’ll be a restricted free agent this summer, and while he said he’s had no contract discussions with the Hawks, he wants to stay in Chicago.

“That’s the big mystery,” he said with a laugh. “I think after the season, we’ll find out what’s going on. I’m hoping to stay here and hoping to maybe battle a little more with Crow next year.”

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