Chicago’s Finnish phenom to get first NHL start on Wednesday


The Blackhawks have announced that Antti Raanta — the reigning Finnish league MVP — will make his first NHL start on Wednesday when Chicago takes on the Flames in Calgary.

Raanta, 24, is currently serving as Corey Crawford’s backup with Nikolai Khabibulin on IR. The Finnish netminder has yet to make an NHL start but will get a shot tomorrow, as Crawford has played in 15 consecutive games.

(Raanta did make his NHL debut in relief of Crawford on Nov. 19, during a 5-1 loss to Colorado.)

Raanta signed with Chicago in June after lighting up the Finnish league last season. He backstopped Assat to the ’13 SM-liiga championship (capturing the Jari Kurri Trophy, Finland’s equivalent to the Conn Smythe), and that came after he posted a 1.33 GAA and .955 save percentage during the regular season, winning the league’s top goaltender award and MVP.

In August, goalie coach Jaakko Rosendahl raved about Raanta’s presence and mental approach, and Raanta’s looked good for Rockford this season, posting a 7-5-0 record with a 2.83 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage.