ST. LOUIS — Antti Raanta likely will make his first start in goal next week, either Monday at home against San Jose or Wednesday at home against the Detroit, assuming coach Alain Vigneault doesn’t want his backup to sit too much longer. Raanta last played in a preseason game Oct. 4 in Brooklyn, making 39 saves in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders.
Next weekend’s back-to-back almost certainly will be shared, with Lundqvist presumably starting in Washington on Saturday and Raanta at the Garden against Arizona on Sunday.
Raanta was 11-6-2 last season, with a 2.25 goals-against-average and a .919 save percentage.
Klein or Clendening on PP?
Defenseman Kevin Klein, who remains sidelined with back spasms, might not return to the right point on the power play when he returns. It depends how Adam Clendening fares. But one thing is for sure, Vigneault wants a righthander there, such as Klein or Clendening.
“We’ll deal with that when that times arises,” Vigneault said. “There’s no doubt that a righthanded shot is a valuable asset. With both [Derek] Stepan and Mika [Zibanejad] on the half-wall on that side [with different units], we believe that opens things up with one-touch passes and one-time shooting.”
Klein had just one power-play assist last season when used with the man-advantage. As for Clendening, Vigneault said: “For the most part his decision-making was good with and without the puck, so I like the dimension that he brings, and he’s only 23.”
Mika getting look on PK
Zibanejad, who has been taking some defensive zone faceoffs on the penalty-kill, may be on a fourth forward-duo while shorthanded, along with Mats Zuccarello. “That’s in my mind, but we’ll see how we respond” with [current pairs] Rick Nash- Stepan, Michael Grabner-Jesper Fast and J.T. Miller-Kevin Hayes, Vigneault said. Miller is being tried on the penalty-kill because of suggestions from the staff when he played shorthanded in the World Junior Championships, “when he was considered a shutdown centerman”, and the recent World Cup for Team North America, Vigneault said.