Chicago’s star Finnish goalie not irked by Khabibulin signing


Antti Raanta, the talented Finnish netminder that signed with the Blackhawks in early June, says he has no problem with the club acquiring veteran Nikolai Khabibulin to pair with Corey Crawford next season.

‘‘It was kind of obvious that they were going to take some goalie there,’’ he told the Chicago Sun-Times. ‘‘They didn’t promise me that I was going to be in the first two goalies, so I knew I had to [do] a lot of work to get upstairs and get games in the NHL.’’

Raanta, 24, was named SM-liiga playoff MVP this season after capturing the Jari Kurri Trophy, Finland’s equivalent to the Conn Smythe. He posted a 1.33 GAA and .955 save percentage in the playoffs for Assat, backstopping the club to the league championship.

That award capped off a banner campaign in which he also won the league’s top goaltender award and regular season MVP.

Unsurprisingly, there were a number of NHL teams interested in securing Raanta’s services.

Chicago beat out the likes of Minnesota, Winnipeg and Edmonton, and it looked as though Raanta was in line for a backup job at the NHL level after Ray Emery — who teamed with Crawford to win the Jennings Trophy last season — signed in Philadelphia.

But shortly after Emery inked with the Flyers, the ‘Hawks brought back Khabibulin, who played in Chicago from 2005-09.

Rannata, to his credit, seemed unfazed by the development.

“If I have to go to the AHL, I’m ready for that, ” he explained. “I just have to take the pucks and try to be the No. 1 goalie in Rockford and in the NHL sometime.”

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?