Today the Blackhawks made a minor move with major implications. The Blackhawks reassigned Jason LaBarbera back to the Rockford Ice Hogs. LaBarbera had been acquired from the Edmonton Oilers on December 14th 2013 for future considerations. The move was insurance for Antti Raanta while Corey Crawford was out.
Crawford returned from a groin injury on Thursday January 2nd, which raised the question: What to do with Raanta?
There had been some rumblings that Raanta would be sent down to Rockford to continue his development. That was the original plan for Raanta. In Rockford Raanta could get the majority of the starts and continue to adapt to the NHL style of hockey. In my mind sending Raanta to Rockford made no sense. Raanta has shown he can play at the NHL level. He has compiled a record of 11-1-3 with 2.27 goals against average and a .911 save percentage. His 11-1-3 record includes a shutout victory over the La Kings. Raanta also won co-rookie of the month for December.
Why would the Blackhawks send Raanta anywhere?
The LaBarbera move means that Raanta will be the backup to Crawford for the foreseeable future. The Blackhawks did not let Raanta get rusty. Raanta got the start against the Devils Friday night. Raanta continued his winning ways defeating the Devils 5-3. Expect Raanta to get more starts than a normal backup would until Crawford is fully ready to resume the starting goal tender work load. The Blackhawks now feel they have a quality backup that they can rely upon and should not be forced to overuse Crawford during the regular season.
Rejoice Blackhawks fans Raanta is here to stay!
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