With the reports ahead of tonight’s Game 1 matchup against the New York Islanders, Antti Raanta will be in between the pipes for the Carolina Hurricanes.
The last few starts for Frederik Andersen have been shaky, to say the least. Despite what some feel, the goals given up to Andersen were ultimately his to stop and the confidence level of the players in front of him was at a dangerously low level.
The fact that Rod Brind’Amour had a healthy and quality type option in Raanta is a luxury that should be used at this time of year. Additionally, Pyotr Kochetkov was brought up to the team with the Chicago Wolves season coming to an end.
Do not count out Kochetkov from at least dressing for a game in this series.
In a perfect world, Raanta would stop every shot in four straight wins but that is not something that can be counted on by the coaching staff.
Although Andersen is not in the good graces of the fans or the coaching staff, he could play a huge factor in this playoff series.
For now, the right choice was made in Raanta for Game 1. This may be a game-to-game type series until someone stays hot. Brind’Amour has played both goalies every other game to finish the season so they are used to the rotation.
On the other end of the ice, the Islanders will have the same goaltender every game unless of an injury. Ilya Sorokin has been the Islanders’ best player, making acrobatic saves to keep this scoring-challenged team in most games.
Goaltending is always the biggest factor in a playoff series but the unconventional play by Carolina could prove to be beneficial. This group of goalkeepers has had its fair share of injuries, forcing the emergence of Kochetkov this season.
Although it is not ideal, the injuries have given Raanta and Andersen less of a work load and the experience of trading starts with one another.
To start the playoffs, I believe that the winning goalie will continue to start where a loss will most certainly bring a fresh face in the net.