Dustin L. Nelson The Hockey Writers
Raanta’s Hot, WJC Rosters & More News
One of Sunday’s big stories was that for the third straight game, Antti Raanta would be in net for the Rangers. Not only was it three straight starts, this one was against New Jersey. Henrik Lundqvist had started 25 straight games against the Devils at MSG. But you have to go with the hot hand.
“[Lundqvist], like all our players, have a team-first attitude, and right now there’s no doubt that Antti is playing real well and deserves to play,” head coach Alain Vigneault said. “I love Hank, but I love the team more, and right now Antti is on top of his game.”
Raanta proved why he got the start. He stopped all 19 shots he faced for yet another shutout and a 5-0 Rangers win. Over his last three starts, he’s posted a .984 save percentage. He’s also the first Rangers goaltender since Mike Dunham in 2003 to post shutouts in back-to-back team games. Somehow, Lundqvist has never done that.
It’s hard to imagine Lundqvist playing second fiddle for very long, but he’s often struggled in December and it is hard to sit a goaltender playing as well as Raanta. He has earned a fourth straight start, but it’s unlikely this turns into a goalie controversy.
Laine Scores Again, Kind Of
With the game tied 2-2 and less than nine minutes remaining, Patrik Laine went top shelf on his own goaltender to hand the Oilers what would wind up being the game-winner. That’s a tough pill to swallow for anyone, especially a rookie.
“He’s 18 years old, he feels terrible,” captain Blake Wheeler said after the game. “These things happen. I’ve done it many times. It’s just a bad bounce. He’s done a (heck) of a job for us this year. You just hate to see a guy feel that way after a game.”
The NHL has named Philadelphia Jakub Voracek, Raanta and the Blue Jackets’ Sam Gagner the “Three Stars” of the week.
Voracek led the NHL with six assists (3-6-9) in four games. That certainly helped the Flyers extend their winning streak to nine games, the team’s longest streak since April 1995.
As mentioned above, Raanta went 3-0-0 this week with a .984 save percentage and a pair of shutouts.
In three game, Gagner posted three goals and six points, helping the Jackets extend their point streak to eight games (7-0-1).
The Great One On The Great One
Yes, as the NHL has shoved down everyone’s throat for the last month, Wayne Gretzky had a cameo spot with The Simpsons on Sunday. Here’s what all the fuss was about:
He is a hero of winter.
A Great Moment
During the Wild’s win over the Blues on Sunday, there was a beautiful moment. This kid did the “Let’s Play Hockey” call to start the game and offered some hilarious answers to FS North’s Kevin Gorg (all of which is sadly missing from the below clip).
That included Gorg asking him if it was more fun to do “Let’s Play Hockey” or to have injured Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater come to his birthday party. He replied the latter, unfazed by being at the game still.
As the interview was winding down, Nino Niederreiter scored a goal and, unprompted, Gorg’s guest made a fantastic goal call that mostly involved turning his excitement into a scream.
Swiss WJC Camp Roster
The Swiss side has announced their 2017 World Junior Championship camp roster. It’s highlighted by Halifax Mooseheads forward Nico Hischier, who is expected to go high in the 2017 NHL Draft. Other notables expected to be lacing up for the Swiss on Dec. 26 include Capitals prospect Jonas Siegenthaler and Blue Jackets prospect Calvin Thurkauf.
Denmark’s WJC Camp Roster
Denmark has also named their camp roster. Heading to camp are many 2017 draft eligibles and three players who have already been drafted. They are San Jose pick Joachim Blichfeld, St. Louis pick Nikolaj Krag Christensen and Chicago prospect Mathias From.
Odds & Ends
– With an assist Sunday, Eric Staal hit 800 career points.
– One of three assists Artyom Fyodorov had in a KHL Dynamo win Saturday, this tip-pass to Alexei Tsvetkov is pretty incredible.
h/t Bar Down
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