GREENBURGH, N.Y. - During his two seasons in Chicago, Antti Raanta was known by local journalists as a decent fellow and was liked by his teammates. The Finnish goalie had been 20-9-5 in 39 appearances for the Blackhawks, with a .912 save percentage and a 2.41 GAA, but in late February the Hawks turned to Scott Darling as the backup to No. 1 Corey Crawford, and sent Raanta to AHL Rockford. During the playoffs, he was brought back as the third goalie on the taxi squad.
Raanta was quoted in an article in a small Finnish paper, Ilta-Sanomat, as saying he wanted the Blackhawks, the eventual Stanley Cup champs, to lose in the first round so he could go home to Finland.
When he arrived in New York earlier this month, he told Newsday that the five-page profile, which included quotes from his father, was mostly positive and although he was angry at the time ("I wanted to play"), the moment passed "once I got back in the locker room and saw my teammates."
On Sunday, he discussed the topic again and said the impression being made of him was as a bad guy. "I'm not that kind of guy," said Raanta, 26. "Of course, sometimes you have bad days. That was only the expression of how I felt in one day before even the playoffs started. Of course, it came out a little too hard when it translated to English."
Raanta who was acquired for forward Ryan Haggerty on June 27, said that last season the major improvement was that he became mentally stronger between starts, and the numbers showed it. His GAA dropped to 1.89 and his save percentage jumped to .936 over 2013-14. His main competition in the hunt to back up Henrik Lundqvist is Magnus Hellberg, 24, who has played in one NHL game. "I don't think too much about the backup [job]," Raanta said. "I just try to do my best and hopefully that's enough."
Coach Alain Vigneault's early impressions of Emerson Etem and Viktor Stalberg: "I've liked both of them. Stalberg's speed is evident; Etem today showed good puck protection skills, good takeaway speed. He's searching [out] the coaches to get a head start on video work, asking a lot of questions. He's a young player who definitely wants to get better."
West Point visit
With six days between the final preseason game against the Bruins on Sept. 30 and the season opener in Chicago, the Rangers will spend a couple of them training and bonding in West Point, where they visited under coach Tom Renney in 2007. The Knicks visited there for the first time last September.
Oddly, there were no scrimmages Sunday, just more drills, including odd-man rushes. Keegan Iverson and defenseman Sergey Zborovskiy were moved to Team A from Team C; Travis Oleksuk and defenseman Calle Andersson went to Team C. Zborovskiy, a 2015 third-round draftee, later took a pass at the right point, deked, went to the slot and zipped a low backhander through a screen and Lundqvist . . . Rick Nash stood out, as did Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider, who also scored during the sessions.