Coyotes’ Antti Raanta makes return, looks to stay in net for season’s end

Mar 17, 2018, 10:27 PM
Arizona Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta (32) and defenseman Alex Goligoski (33) slide over to prote...
Arizona Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta (32) and defenseman Alex Goligoski (33) slide over to protect the goal against a shot from Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Strome (18) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. The Coyotes defeated the Oilers 1-0. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Arizona Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta made his return to the crease on Saturday night, doing so for the first time after a lower-body injury kept him out since March 3.

Arizona fell 3-1 to the Minnesota Wild, but he and his team are probably glad he’s back.

The Coyotes’ starting netminder has played just 40 of the team’s 71 games this year, his first in Arizona since coming over in a trade from the New York Rangers this summer. When he’s healthy, he’s been a big factor for the ‘Yotes; coming into Saturday’s game, he was fifth in the NHL in save percentage (.924) among goalies who have played 30 or more games. The Coyotes are 16-18-6 in games in which Antti Raanta made an appearance this season. Otherwise, they’re 7-19-5.

“That’s the big thing. I think everybody wants to be healthy all the time,” Raanta said. “When you have some minor injuries all the time, it kind of slows you down a little bit and it can be tougher, mental side. But I just try to think positive and try to work as hard as I can so hopefully there is no more injuries or anything else.”

Raanta is slated to became an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, and 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station‘s Craig Morgan reported that both sides are interesting in getting a deal done, rather than having the netminder test the free agent market.

For that reason, and it being the first year that Raanta is getting the No. 1 goalie responsibilities after having backed up Henrik Lundqvist and Corey Crawford in years prior, this season is a big one for Raanta. Even with his absences, he’s already exceeded his previous career high of 30 games played, which he set last year in New York.

The Coyotes have 11 games left, with two pairs of back-to-back games.

“Hopefully it’s a good learning experiment also for me to kind of listen to my body a little bit more and see what I can do differently and like that to stay healthy,” Raanta said. “There’s still lots of games left so hopefully we can get a few wins and end on a high note for sure.”

Arizona has played better as a team since the new year, going 14-10-6 since Jan. 1 after posting a 9-27-5 record through December. The Coyotes could build on their recent momentum by having Raanta back for what they hope is the rest of the season, which would solidify the goaltending duo of him and Darcy Kuemper, as coach Rick Tocchet described it.

In Saturday’s game against Minnesota, Raanta said he didn’t feel rusty.

“I felt pretty good all the time,” he said. “I think when the game went on I was reading the plays a little better. But we’ve been skating almost the whole time so I haven’t really been off the ice, so that helped a lot.”

Penguin Air

Arizona Coyotes

Fans watch as the Arizona Coyotes warm up before the NHL game against the Nashville Predators at Gi...
Character Counts

Arizona Coyotes Foundation’s 2022-23 grant cycle to open July 1

The Arizona Coyotes Foundation announced that the 2022-23 grant cycle will open from July 1 and run through Aug. 1.
6 days ago
National Hockey League Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly announces the Arizona Coyotes #3 overall draft...
Arizona Sports

Here’s where the Arizona Coyotes pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft

The 2022 NHL Entry Draft is set to be a big one for the Coyotes, having seven selections in the draft's top 45 picks.
6 days ago
Logan Cooley speaks at the Top Prospects Media Availability at the NHL Scouting Combine at HarborCe...
Sam Graveline

Coyotes nab F Logan Cooley in Bleacher Report’s latest NHL mock draft

Bleacher Report's Lyle Richardson has the Coyotes taking American center Logan Cooley with the No. 3 overall pick in his latest mock draft.
8 days ago
President, CEO & Alternate Governor Xavier A. Gutierrez (Photo by Kelsey Grant/NHLI via Getty I...
Arizona Sports

Coyotes hope to agree with Tempe on arena plan by end of year

Arizona Coyotes CEO and president Xavier Gutierrez said an ideal timeline to get an agreement on a new arena would be by the end of 2022.
12 days ago
(Twitter Photo/@NHL_On_TNT)...
Jake Anderson

Paul Bissonnette gets new haircut after losing bet on Stanley Cup Playoffs

Former Coyotes player and current analyst Paul Bissonnette paid up after losing a Stanley Cup Playoffs bet with an interesting haircut.
19 days ago
Shane Doan walks out onto the ice during a pregame ceremony in his honor and to retire his jersey a...
Arizona Sports

Shane Doan: Work now begins for Coyotes in next phase of arena plans

Arizona Coyotes chief hockey development officer Shane Doan discussed the city council vote going in favor of the Coyotes.
23 days ago
Coyotes’ Antti Raanta makes return, looks to stay in net for season’s end