Sep 23, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Antti Raanta (31) looks on during the pre-game before playing the Pittsburgh Penguins at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
After the 2012-13 season, the writing was on the wall for Ray Emery. Emery was not going to get a chance to start with the Chicago Blackhawks. Emery would pursue a starting job in Philadelphia.
Nikolai Khabibulin was brought back in to be the backup goalie. Khabibulin had played with the Blackhawks from 2005-06 to 2008-09. General Manager Stan Bowman thought the veteran Khabibulin could hold down the back goalie spot this season. Coming into Tuesday night game, he was 1-0-1 with 8 goals allowed on the season. That was good for 3.97 goals allowed and an 81.8 save percentage.
Khabibulin has let everyone down with his play this season. In Khabibulin’s last two starts he had yielded 10 goals in 93 minutes of ice time. Khabibulin could not even give Crawford a night off on Tuesday night. Khabibulin gave up three goals on seven shots in the 2nd period of Tuesday night’s game.
The numbers don’t lie Khabibulin is awful this season. It is almost a foregone conclusion that the Blackhawks will call up Antti Raanta up. Raanta was sent down to Rockford to start the season. This is Raanta first time experiencing the North American style of hockey. The hope was that Raanta could spent all of this season in Rockford and then be ready for the playoffs or next season.
The numbers for Raanta have been impressive this season. Raanta is 5-1 with 15 goals allowed on 187 shots for a goals against of 2.40 this season. That is good for a save percentage of 92.6%.
There are several other questions facing the Blackhawks with the possible Rannta call up. Is playing 60 games at Rockford better than playing 15-18 games in the NHL? Is he really ready for the NHL? Is the unknown play of Raanta in the NHL better than the known play of Khabibulin in the NHL? The argument can be made that just because Raanta has played well in the AHL; does not mean it will translate to the NHL. With no game until Saturday, The Blackhawks Brass will have time to contemplate these questions.
Everyone will be blogging, tweeting, and reporting on the backup goalie situation in Chicago . We hope you come to Blackhawkup for your Blackhawks news.