Raanta edges Jones in backup battle as Chicago beats L.A.


Both the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings have generally fared well despite losing big-money starting goalies to injuries, but Martin Jones has generated more headlines than his counterpart Antti Raanta.* Raanta stole the spotlight on Monday, however, as Chicago slipped by Los Angeles 1-0.

Brandon Saad’s early first period goal ended up being the only tally of the game, as both netminders did their job tonight:

That’s the first shutout of Raanta’s career and Chicago’s first goose egg of the season.

It was a hard-hitting, tight game as the Kings made life difficult for the Blackhawks (45-30 hits, according to the box score), yet Chicago obviously got the last laugh.

The Blackhawks now have a seven-game point streak (5-0-2) and have mopped up points since Dec. 8 (8-1-2 in 11 games). On the other end, the Kings might worry a little bit about their offense drying up; Los Angeles is on a three-game losing streak in which the Kings have only scored four goals. All three of those contests ended in regulation, too.

(Just imagine if Jones wasn’t winning the goalie battles most nights …)

* – And with good reason, really, as Jones came into Monday’s match with a whopping .953 save percentage while Chicago might have been carrying Raanta, who had a mediocre .906 mark before tonight’s game.

After healthy scratch, Severson vows to play ‘next 80 games’

Jimmy Hayes, Damon Severson
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Damon Severson was a healthy scratch on Saturday.

It’s the last game he wants to miss this season.

“I had a good chat with a few people and just pretty much said, ‘I want to be in the next 80 games,’” Severson said, per The Record. “I sat out my game and that’s all I want to be out for for the year.”

Severson is one of the Devils’ most important young players. But this is also the 21-year-old defenseman’s sophomore season, and that’s when slumps can occur.

Hence, the early message he was sent by the coaching staff.

Severson is expected to be back in the lineup tonight when New Jersey hosts Nashville.

“He doesn’t have to be perfect,” coach John Hynes told reporters. “We’d just like to see him have a high compete level. We know he’s ready to go. We had a couple of good meetings with him. He’s in a good spot mentally. I know he’s ready to roll.”

Virtanen to make NHL debut tonight versus Kings

Jake Virtanen
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Jake Virtanen, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, will make his NHL debut tonight when his Canucks meet the Kings in Los Angeles.

The 19-year-old winger was a healthy scratch for Vancouver’s first three games of the regular season. He had two goals and two assists in six preseason games.

“I can’t wait,” he told reporters. “My energy is high. I want to get a couple of hits on my first shift.”

Big and physical with goal-scoring ability, the consensus is that Virtanen will remain in the NHL and not be returned to junior after he’s played nine games. That consensus could always change based on his play, of course.

The Canucks — who won last night in Anaheim — did not have a full skate this morning, so it’s unclear who will come out of the lineup. The best guess is rookie Jared McCann, who’s been playing third-line center.

If McCann does come out, the Canucks could move Brandon Sutter to third-line center and Virtanen could take Sutter’s spot on the first line with the Sedin twins. Or, there could be more extensive line juggling.