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Raanta Ready to Make Debut with Coyotes

Goalie Antti Raanta missed the season opener because of a lower-body injury

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

GLENDALE -- Antti Raanta on Friday declared himself ready to start in goal on Saturday when the Coyotes play their 2017-18 home opener vs. the Vegas Golden Knights at Gila River Arena.

"I feel good," Raanta said after practice. "Every day there has been a little progress. The last two, three days you start to feel the sharpness in your movements and you're seeing the puck good ... There's a game tomorrow so I just need to prepare for that. It was a good skate today, lots of shots. I felt real good."

Head Coach Rick Tocchet and his staff have been monitoring Raanta's recovery from a lower-body issue and it appears to them he's OK.

"He had a good practice today," Tocchet said. "We'll see how he is in the morning and we'll go from there."

The Coyotes will be looking for Raanta to help them rebound from a 5-4 loss at Anaheim in the season opener on Thursday. Louis Domingue tended net in that game and stopped 36 of 41 shots. But Raanta is No. 1 on the team's depth chart, and he's eager to compete for the Coyotes, the first NHL team to anoint him their starter. 

"There's so much excitement for the home opener and lots of new guys," Raanta said. "When you step out for the first time in a regular-season game in your home building you want to prove that you can do the job." 

Raanta came to training camp ready to start the next chapter in his career, but he was hampered by injury and played just two periods of one preseason game. Rust is not a major concern, he said.

"I tried to make practice like a game situation and the last couple of days have been really good," Raanta said. "I felt that I'm on time, and I'm set when the shot is coming, and I'm seeing the puck good. I've tried to focus on the right things and go from there ... I was kind of hesitating in some movements, but when the training staff said 'go for it' and then you start making those split saves and whatever saves you try to make, you just forget it. It's been feeling good and I think it's behind us."

Playing Vegas in his first game could be tricky considering the Golden Knights are an expansion team and their style of play and team chemistry is unknown.

"For a goalie, you look at their roster and see who they have there and try to get little reminders from last season of where they played and how they played," Raanta said. "But I just try to focus on my own thing, and I think that's how the whole team is preparing right now. We're just trying to get a little better step by step."

Video: Raanta on Home Opener vs. VGK


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