Antti Raanta, Blackhawks Blank Leafs

On a tough, emotional night for the Blackhawks at the United Center, the team responded to terrible news with a strong team performance and shutout the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Shaw helmet CR decal

Antti Raanta made 31 saves to post his second shutout of the season. Toronto put 14 shots on net in the third, but Raanta made saves on every one of them to preserve the doughnut on the scoreboard.

Chicago got on the board in the first period as David Rundblad scored his first goal with the Indian head on his sweater. In what would become a familiar refrain on Sunday night, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp were credited with assists on the goal.

Sharp opened the game on the second line with Kane and Kris Versteeg in the place of Brad Richards, who was scratched with an upper-body injury. Richards is listed as day-to-day, but the second line continued rolling in his absence.

In the closing seconds of the first, Kane led a rush and dropped the puck to Versteeg. Versteeg kicked the puck to his stick and shot it past James Reimer with 0.4 seconds showing on the clock. Sharp picked up the second assist on this goal as well.

For Versteeg, his ninth goal continues a career renaissance. The forward had only 12 goals in 81 injury-plagued games combined between the Panthers and Blackhawks last year. He now has nine goals in 30 games to start this season.

Both teams failed to score in the second period, but emotions flared when Roman Polak (who is still a turd) drove Kane into the boards from behind. Polak was only called for a two-minute boarding minor penalty on the play, and Kane was fine. But that doesn’t change the fact that Polak remains a turd.

In the third, the Hawks killed a Versteeg penalty and then went on the power play as David Clarkson went to the box after interfering with Johnny Oduya. Only 21 seconds into the advantage, Kane put the Hawks up 3-0 with his team-leading 16th goal of the season. And, once again, Sharp picked up an assist.

Jonathan Toews finished the scoring with his 13th of the season only 2:15 later. For a fun change of pace, the assists on this goal went to Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith.

The second line dominated the night. Versteeg (one goal), Kane (one goal, two assists) and Sharp (three assists) combined for seven points in the game as the Hawks ran away from the league’s top scoring squad.

Oduya and Michael Rozsival led the team with four blocked shots, and Bryan Bickell once again led the team with five hits. Bickell skated more than 14 minutes in the victory.

In the second night of a back-to-back with travel in between, coach Joel Quenneville spread out the ice time evenly in the emotional game. Toews only skated 15:42 but won 11 of 18 faceoffs. Versteeg, the designated center on the second line, won only one of six faceoffs in the game, but Marcus Kruger, Ben Smith, Andrew Shaw and Sharp combined to have a strong night at the dot; Chicago won 31 of 58 draws in the game.

The Hawks will return to their home ice on Tuesday night when the Winnipeg Jets visit.

23 thoughts on “Antti Raanta, Blackhawks Blank Leafs

  1. Great win. Double great when its the Leafs we beat..double double with the shutout. Gives me bragging rights for the next 48 hours. Raanta was very good and deserved the shutout. I have no idea how some of those pucks stayed out of the net. Team looked dominant against the suprisingly # 1 goal scoring team in the entire league. Even when the Leafs pressed we gave them little and they fizzled. Very emotional game for the guys and they honoured one of their own with a statement.

  2. Great game all around.

    I’ve always backed Versteeg but who knew he had this much in him! I was really impressed with his 200 ft game tonight. Obviously he won’t stay as 2C, but besides the faceoffs, he (along with that whole line) had himself a game.

    Rundblad looked more comfortable as well.

    Go Hawks!

  3. That was one of the top 5 games of the season when taking all aspects of the game into consideration. All players in double digit TOI at ES – that might be the first time that happened this season. Not a whole lot to nitpick on this night – they even scored a goal on the PP !

    Obviously Raanta with the shutout deserves kudos but more than anything he played a very good positional game. He wasn’t over playing, was square to the shooter, came out when he should have, controlled rebounds, and he even played the puck pretty well. I think that may have been the best game I remember seeing from him.

    Rundblad played pretty well. In the competition for that #6 spot after TvR went down, there have been (only) a few games where the #6 guy played well – tonight was one of them. I know it’s kinda like a tallest midget contest, but at this point I would say Rundblad has had 2 good games and that’s probably one more than each of the rest of the contestants have.

    Toews and Kane are good. And their team is pretty good too. Keep’er rollin boys.

  4. The stars were the stars and when Toews and Kane lead everything else seems to fall into place. It’s amazing how this organization was transformed by those 2 draft picks and rocky wirtz taking control. I feel very very fortunate as a hawks fan.

    I am happy for Rantta as well who was reportedly down in the dumps when it appeared darling was the “the guy” with Crawford out. Rantta has really upped his game and credit to him for taking it as a challenge and running with it.

    I also am happy for Rundblad. He sits a lot and when he has chances to play its one mistake and out (in fairness to his critics, there inevitably has been a mistake or two).
    But he scored tonight and immediately you could see his confidence skyrocket. He made some good short passes to exit the zone and sometimes as defenseman that’s what makes or breaks your shift. Great win.

  5. It was nice to get the win as I live near T.O-and many friends that can rub it in my face.
    Chicago deserved the victory but it seemed like too many turn-overs, that the Leafs didn’t capitalize on. When Kessel is on he buries one or two of those.
    16 and 28 work their hearts out every game-and Kaner is magic–pure and simple.

  6. Get win on an emotional day for the team.

    The team as a whole is playing great and the schedule stays favorable (only one back to back in the coming weeks and nothing too difficult to manage). We can stay fresh and keep this hot streak going.

    No reason to believe it wont though…

    As ive been out of touch a little the past few weeks, i just want to go back and say I like the Morin move. I like Morin… but It was clear he was preferred by Q for one reason or another. he is a scrappy player who should fit in well in Cbus… all the best to him. Erixon feels like a Runblad type player. He should give us some moments, but will have some bumps as a young kid with promise who has been moved a ton and never hit that potential. But if it shores up the blueline short term and keeps the cden, dalhbeck, etc cheap for their next contracts then i guess thats fine with me. I still think Cden has place on this team as a 3rd pairing guy. If we can give him some 2 year 900K bridge contract, i think he will be everything we need him to be for that role. he wont be the Keith replacement, but he can be ok enough with Oduya and Rosy gone next year (2/7, 4/Dahlbeck, TVR/Cden sounds good to me).

  7. Hawks skating hard to put it simply, BUT Toronto is really bad, big and very slow. A few burst of life but pretty lifeless. Horrible on the defensive end but Hawks continue to simply out skate opponents. Kane is actually playing on another level more “point guard” and he really is the ONLY player in the NHL that can be productive and produce on all 4 lines! Rannnnntaa was good, he just saw everything, so he stopped everything for his size, (small)) he is very effective at getting and gaining site line from the shot. Our defense got pinned more than once again not every player is Keith, they are getting trapping below the dots a lot, leading to break outs, but it’s skill and IQ thing they’ll get better.

  8. Craig N- good thoughts on Raanta… and Is Runbad starting to Develop???

    I have not been a fan of 5 since early… But that is two or 3 games in a row where he has actually looked good- not just -ok (excluding the game when he went behind the Offensive goal with a 2 goal lead in 3rd-leading to break-away), but Good… He is starting to use the “Hammer” one hand pass… he is “Boxing out guys” like skinny TvR… He is doing the “Keith Spin-o-rama ” on the boards to avoid the big hit… #5 rarely did these things in the earlier games… Rbad- has always been a Plus skater… But Terrible on the boards.

    I hope I was wrong on him…

    A lot of young guys come to Chicago- and Chant the cliche- “the Hawks organization has a knack for developing young players” – well maybe they actually do!!!

  9. You could feel the emotion from the players during the game. It was sad to see Parchy after the game and know the emotion he must have felt. Rocky has this class organization doing so many things right I am sure they will do right by Clint’s family. Craig, you are so right that we are lucky things happened as they did with Rocky taking over this team. When you stop to think about what a huge turnaround he engineered it makes you proud to be a Hawks fan.

  10. Wall – Of course the Hawks have a knack for developing young players. Just look at half of Florida’s roster!

    I think Rundblad’s play is all based on confidence. When he plays bad he looks hesitant like the play is dictating his actions. When he plays well, he dictates the action.

    I know some people like to think there shouldn’t be learning done at the NHL level, but there is a ton of it for defensemen. The speed of the game is completely different and it determines how much of a gap you should be leaving. The Hawks top 4 are really agressive in the neutral zone and do a wonderful job of breaking up plays before they even develop. What I see from the kids is that they are so worried about letting someone behind them, they leave too big of a gap out front and it pushes them back into the goalie. It takes time to develop that trust in your abilities.

    We’ve heard time and time again that Patrick Kane doesn’t get to the front of the net and some people have said he isn’t a playoff performer for that reason (Rufus T. Firefly). Obviously, he’s shown that he’s one of the best playoff performers of this generation of players. Anyway, what I wanted to point out is how smart Kane is when he attacks the net without the puck. He can’t park it out in front of the net because he will be murdered, but he cuts to the net with such amazing timing that he regularly scores goals off of rebounds. He is such a smart player with and without the puck and we really are blessed that he is a Blackhawk.

  11. Liked Sharp in the 2C spot. Probably Richards spot when he returns, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Kane and Sharp spend some more time together. They are the perfect pair and can generate so many chances. If it means dropping ‘Steeg down, that’s not such a bad thing either.

  12. JS- I had the Florida Hawks in mind when I wrote that…

    Re: Rbad. My knock on him wasn’t really gap issue… more about his timidness/turtle-ing on D boards, and inability to stay on his skates (when the wind blew) when there was ANY contact on D boards… Might just be last game or two ( Mirage)- but he is beating/anticipating the play much quicker- and therefore- able to avoid most contact.
    TvR- didn’t hit anyone- yet he was able to dislodge the puck in most board battles w/ stick and body position… Hopefully 5 can continue… Nite and day from his 1st several Hawk games…

    Lastly- 5 was always good for 1-2 fumbles (kind of like Oduya has been lately) leading to Odd mans for the other teams.

    Another thought- Re: Goalies. I had this thought before game- and Foley/Oley brought it up… The Hawk goalies have pretty much been perfect this year in not letting up “softies”… Knock on crow 2 years ago- he would let a change-up by every 5th/6th game or so (which is a killer)… ALL of the Chi. Goalies have been great – minimizing that!!!

  13. TC why not 23-10-88 and drop Richards down to the 3d line??

    I saw our goalie stats this morning
    Crow 1.87 gaa .927 sv %
    Darling 1.97 .937
    Raaaaaaaaaanta 1.76 .945
    So our 2 “backups” are 11-4 and a combined 1.86 GAA with a 15 game sample size…WOW…..SB has some trade options in March

    Looks like SB is on a new hot streak. Versteeg playing at or near elite level, TvR assuming he fully recovers, Rundblad looks OK and 2 backup goalies competing, playing unbelievably well and the farm system prospects seem to be elevating their game too. SB’s Cap management is looking pretty solid.

    Tomorrow will be a tougher test for Crow tomorrow as the Hawks sometimes do not play well vs the Jets.

    Go Hawks

  14. Wall – Rundblad’s gaps have actually been pretty good. I just feel like you can see him hesitating to leave the front of the net sometimes. I was mostly referring to CDen and Dahlbeck who would routinely give the forwards way too much space.

    As far as the goalie situation- Hawks are in a really good spot in that they really have 3 good options. I’m probably not the only one that never feels comfortable with Raanta in the crease, but he’s keeping the pucks out… somehow.

    Stan has put this roster in a really good spot and if they have to shave cap space next season, they will be dealing from a position of strength no matter where they are dealing from.

  15. JS- Re: Cden/Dbeck… I was shocked on how “timid” they were to leave the post… and NOT engage/stop a play along boards… it was interesting! In a bad way- had me thinking what/why would they do that??? Paralysis by analysis???

    Yes- I know what you mean by Raanta scares … Which – once again leaves me to the broken record- Hawks D/system really makes life for the goalie ok…(most of the time)

  16. I hope they stick with Runblad and let him gain some valuable NHL experience. His skating speed and smoothness is superior to 34 and he shows some stick quickness and offensive IQ. I liked the lines last night. Good to see 42-16-28 back together. They are a matchup nightmare for the typical 4rth line competition. 10-23-88 looked explosive. 19’s goal was a thing of beauty.

  17. @Mike – I’m still not convinced that Q is content with Sharp’s defensive play at center. Additionally, I wouldn’t want to limit Sharp’s offensive game by taxing him with center responsibilities. Richards look fine there and as good as Versteeg looked, I think Sharp brings even more to the LW slot.

  18. Toews goal was a thing of beauty and he blew past Gardiner. I was worried when Kane got that cheapshot from Polak and I’m glad he was ok. Polak is an idiot and pissed because Bickell blasted him just before.

  19. Fun game to watch, living out of market I love when the Hawks are on NHL network (which is quite a bit this year), especially when we get the Canadian broadcasters feed, it’s almost like they’re speaking English. I honestly think they try to fit the words agaynst and organeyezation in as much as possible, charming.

    When the Blackhawks were in transition they were nearly unstoppable, the Leaves (sic) had a really pesky defense when all 5 guys actually made it back to play D though, if they could have slowed the Hawks in the neutral zone this would have been a different game. Very nice, well positioned D by the hawks all night, barring the meatballs Rozy and Oduya served up, but Raanta was good enough, lucky enough, and Kessel cold enough, to get the SO.

    The Hawks really are on a torrid run right now, I hate teams peaking before mid season but hey, at least they peak. Nice problem to have.

    I’m a dad too so my heart goes out the the Reif family, mostly the kids. What a nightmare, life’s just not fair sometimes. We get these silly games to watch and blab about online, and real life is still going on. How amazing was it to see all those tweets from Hawks past paying their respects, must have been a cool guy. Sad to see, and I’m sure the Wirtz family will handle this right. Hug those kids every time you get the chance, except when they’re being awful, you can hold off then, just hug them when they go to sleep :)

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