Blackhawks' Duncan Keith feeling encouraged at Day 1 of camp

Blackhawks' Duncan Keith feeling encouraged at Day 1 of camp

Duncan Keith wasn’t feeling right about a month ago.

It was that right knee, the one on which he had surgery last October, so Keith decided not to play for Team Canada in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto. Instead he focused on getting that knee fully healed and preparing for this season with the Blackhawks.

A month later, it’s turning out to be a wise decision.

Keith won’t play in Saturday’s scrimmage but he practiced on Friday when the Blackhawks opened training camp at Johnny’s IceHouse West. While he won’t be doing everything this preseason — assistant coach Mike Kitchen said Keith may not play in any scrimmages — Keith is feeling better than he did when he bowed out of World Cup.

“It's just kind of been basically going on for a while now. I tried to use some time this summer to rest it and do some different things. Once I started skating it didn't react very well so I had to do a few different things to try and get it ready,” Keith said. “It was disappointing I wasn't ready to go for the World Cup. But maybe I wouldn't be where I am right now if I didn't take the time to let it rest and not start skating again until a couple of weeks ago.”

Brent Seabrook wasn’t surprised that Keith didn’t show much of an issue.

“That guy is amazing. It looks like he hasn’t missed a step. But that’s Dunc for you,” Seabrook said. “He’s one of those kind of guys.

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Keith said he’s been skating for about a month now, so the 25-minute practice on Friday was no problem.

Assistant coach Mike Kitchen said Keith “should be fine” for the season opener. Kitchen added that they won’t push Keith this preseason, They’ll also leave it up to Keith to decide if he wants to play a later scrimmage. Considering how much Keith plays during the season, Kitchen said they’re going to be as cautious as possible these next two-plus weeks. And they’ll try to rein in the workaholic Keith as much as they can.

“He wanted to go out for two practices, and we said, ‘No, just go one,’” Kitchen said. “We’re so early in camp. There’s no reason for us to push him at all.”

As far as Keith’s fitness level, Kitchen has no worries in that department, either.

“He brought that up the other day. I watched him before camp started and he was really pushing himself. I said, ‘How can you push yourself so hard? You’re a fit guy anyway.’ You don’t lose it. Those kind of guys don’t lose their fitness and are so conscious of it,” Kitchen said. “He’s at such a high level and it doesn’t take much for him to maintain that level.”

Keith was disappointed to miss World Cup of Hockey but naturally he likes what Team Canada is doing there thus far — “I think they’re going to win, but we’ll see what happens.” But Keith had to do what was best for him and the Blackhawks. Right now, he’s optimistic he’ll be ready to start the season.

“There's no concern to be honest with you. It's just like any type of thing you go through where you do the rehab and you get it ready, and when you're ready to play you're playing and there's no excuses by then,” Keith said. “I'm confident, I feel strong out there. I feel like this offseason has given me a lot of time to basically recover from six, seven, eight seasons prior to that. Since I haven't skated in a long time and getting back on the ice back here in September, I think that's all it is, is just kind of shaking some of that rust off and making sure my knee is getting better and better.”

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?