ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Backup goalie Antti Raanta received the nod for the Chicago Blackhawks in net against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night following an 11-day layoff, but he probably won't have to wait that long for his next start, according to coach Joel Quenneville.
Corey Crawford shouldered a 5-4 shootout loss Wednesday in Detroit, creating an obvious spot for Raanta to rejoin the lineup on the second night of back-to-back games.
“Our team generally is more effective the second night, for whatever reason,” Quenneville said before Thursday's game at Xcel Energy Center. “But we’re comfortable using [Raanta]. Going on that trip here he could even start on the front end of it. I don’t think he’s tagged necessarily on the second of back-to-backs.”
After hosting the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday, the Blackhawks embark on a six-game West Coast road trip that will take them to the Feb. 7-27 Olympic break.
Raanta, who started regularly for Assat Pori of the Finnish Elite League the past two seasons, has adjusted well as an NHL reserve behind Crawford, Quenneville said.
“He’s fine. He hasn’t changed his disposition at all,” Quenneville said. “He’s just happy to be here. He wants to get better. I think he’s watching games and keeping himself ready. In that role you’ve got to be sharp. Any day you might come in when you’re not playing and you’ve got to be alert and prepare yourself the right way.”
Raanta went 7-1-2 during a 10-game starting stretch earlier this sesaon while Crawford nursed a leg injury. But Crawford has started eight of the past 10 games, allowing only 23 goals.
“Since he came back off his injury he’s where we’d like him to be,” Quenneville said about Crawford. “He’s been fine.”