This is Antti Raanta's Crease

Suspense-Thriller author Jeb Bohn

By Jeb Bohn

The summer of 2021 saw a dramatic change in the Carolina Hurricanes’ goaltending platoon. Petr Mrazek, James Reimer, and Alex Nedeljkovic were out; Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta were in.

Andersen—originally selected by Carolina in the 2010 draft—and Raanta each signed two-year deals (the former at an AAV of $4.5 million; $2 million for the latter).

The entire hockey world lauded general manager Don Waddell as a genius and no one second-guessed the moves.

Okay, that last part didn’t happen but, in retrospect, the moves look like absolute steals and it’s impossible to argue against the signings.

Capturing the Jennings

As anticipated, Andersen was the #1 in Raleigh, racking up 35 wins and 4 shutouts in 52 appearances. Raanta, limited to 28 games, earned 15 wins and 2 shutouts in the role of backup.

At the season’s end, the Hurricanes allowed just 200 goals against, the best mark in the league. This performance earned the duo the William Jennings Trophy for the fewest goals allowed, marking the first time the award went to the Hartford/Carolina franchise.

However, one concern with Carolina’s new tandem came not from their skill, but their durability.

Going back to the 2017-18 season, Andersen missed time due to injuries on 9 occasions. In the same span, Raanta was sidelined 12 different times. Included in those numbers is their time with the Hurricanes, though neither missed significant time this season.

Then, during a mid-April matchup against the Colorado Avalanche, Andersen suffered an injury while making a save. Video didn’t show much, though the goaltender had to be helped off of the ice afterward.

As of now, that’s the last time the Danish netminder suited up.

Stepping Up

With Andersen out, the Hurricanes looked to Raanta and highly-touted rookie Pyotr Kotchetkov to carry the load. Both performed well, with Raanta winning three of the four games he appeared in.

Then, during an April 24 game against the New York Islanders, he left the ice with a lower-body injury. Luckily, he returned for the final game of the regular season, a 6-3 win against the New Jersey Devils.

As their first-round matchup with the Boston Bruins approached, it became clear that Andersen wouldn’t be ready. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour turned to the man dubbed ‘Father Finn,” and Raanta responded with a 35 save performance in game one.

Game two delivered a scare after Boston forward David Pastrnak made contact with Raanta’s head, taking him out of the game. Kotchetkov proved up to the challenge, turning aside 30 shots as Carolina took a 2-0 series lead.

Raanta returned for game four, looking slightly off his game. As a result, the series returned to PNC Arena tied at 2 games apiece. He rebounded, stopping 33 out of 34 shots in game five before surrendering four goals in a game six loss.

In the winner-take-all seventh game, he stopped 93% of the shots he faced, earning the win and sending the Hurricanes into a second-round series against the New York Rangers.

A Worthy Adversary

The Rangers allowed just 4 more goals than Carolina, thanks in large part to an outstanding season from goaltender Igor Shesterkin. How has Raanta fared?

Through the first 2 games of the series, Raanta has stopped 48 out of 49 shots, including several high-danger chances in game one while the Hurricanes were trailing.

To be fair, Shesterkin has played incredibly well, he’s just been bested by his counterpart. That’s no small feat, given that he’s a Vezina finalist.

Still, it’s Carolina holding a 2-0 series lead.

Return of the Mack

Prior to game two against the Rangers, Andersen returned to the ice with goaltending coach Paul Schonfelder. He didn’t part in a full practice, but it certainly came as a welcome sight.

That said, even if Andersen were ready to go for game three, the Hurricanes have to stick with Raanta. He has not only proven the doubters wrong, but he has also kept Carolina in games when they struggled to find their legs.

There’s also the argument about whether Andersen will be rusty, having been out for close to a month. I won’t downplay that concern, but that’s not the point. Raanta has earned this and, as far as I’m concerned, the Hurricanes’ net is his to lose.

Antti Raanta: 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Games Played: 8

Wins: 5

Losses: 2

Shutouts: 1

GAA: 1.83

SV%: .939

Share this article:

Antti Raanta

Regular Season

Games Played: 28

Wins: 15

Losses: 5

OL: 4

GAA: 2.45

SV%: .912

SO: 2

More Hockey Posts:

The Sometimes Odd, Always Entertaining History of Professional Hockey in the Old North State

Join the readers list and never miss a new release!

Follow the author:

antti raanta

Leave a Reply