Blackhawks turn to Raanta with Crawford injured

Dec 10, 2013 3:05 AM

In another example on why it’s so hard to repeat as champions in any of the major sports, the Chicago Blackhawks were able to snap a mild three-game losing streak over the weekend, but did so while losing their starting goalie indefinitely.

Corey Crawford suffered a “lower-body injury” against lowly Florida and did not return to the ice. While Hawks coaches scrambled to insert their back-up goalie, hockey handicappers were also in scramble mode, searching for information to see if Antti Raanta is worthy of a wager over the next few days or weeks.

Raanta, a 24-year-old from Finland, is 3-0-1 for Chicago. Speaking of reserve goalies, Los Angeles went with third-stringer Martin Jones to give Ben Scrivens a break following 10 straight shots while Jonathan Quick heals.

Jones looked sharp in a 3-2 overtime victory over Anaheim, so Kings head coach Darryl Sutter stayed with the hot (lefty) hand and kept Jones in the net. He posted a shutout win over the Islanders in his second career start.

Other “unknown” goalies among the reserves playing well include Detroit’s Jonus Gustavsson and Petr Mrazek, the Rangers’ Cam Talbot, and Carolina’s Anton Khudobin.

Keep these names in mind when you encounter them while handicapping, then go to the window with confidence.

Speaking about reserve goalies, New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur has asked for no “farewell tour” should he announce plans to retire.

Too bad because when Mariano Rivera’s baseball good-byes hit the west coast, several teams gave surfboards as gifts.

Among high-profile starting tenders, there may be no name bigger then Henrik Lundqvist in New York.Following the league’s announcement of a new Canadian television contract, the Rangers inked “King Henrik” to a seven-year deal worth, well, MegaMillions.

The signing comes off the heels of Carey Price’s six-year, $39 million deal in Montreal. And now Steve Mason, who has resurrected his career in Philadelphia, is happy with a one-year offer for $1.5M.

The offer seems fair, considering the Flyers will be writing checks to Ilya Bryzgalov until 2027 to get rid of him last summer. Plus, Philly needs Mason to perform – only Buffalo scores less often than the Flyers.

Homecoming: On Tuesday, Jarome Iginla returns to Calgary where he was a member of the Flames for 1,219 career games.

Calgary shipped him to Pittsburgh last season in exchange for prospects Kenny Agostino, Ben Hanowski and a first round pick that became Morgan Klimchuk; yet they still rank near the bottom of the rugged Western Conference. Only Edmonton and the Islanders allow more goals per game.

Numbers: Toronto is proving to be one of the better 5-on-5 teams of late, but the Leafs’ penalty-kill unit is in big trouble – allowing a power play goal in 10 straight games. The weakest penalty killing remains the Isles, losers of nine straight.

Conversely, St. Louis rates second to Pittsburgh on the power play, but don’t be misled. The Blues collect goals against the bottom half of the league, but more disciplined, upper-echelon teams stay out of the box against them.

No wonder Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “We’re losing against good teams. We have to figure out how to play against them.”

The Blues are second to Chicago in the Central Division, six points back but with four games in hand entering the week. Hey, you could be Nashville or Winnipeg.

Contact Nick at [email protected].

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