Blackhawks: Keith caps off historic postseason with Conn Smythe


Blackhawks: Keith caps off historic postseason with Conn Smythe

Brent Seabrook barely waited for the question to finish before giving his answer. It was about his longtime defensive partner Duncan Keith, so it was easy.

“Unbelievable,” Seabrook said of Keith this postseason. “He’s been unbelievable for a long time and what he did this playoffs was amazing. He got a huge goal tonight to get us started and he’s just an amazing player.”

Indeed, Keith capped a tremendous playoff run by winning the Conn Smythe Trophy for the most valuable player of the postseason. Keith, who scored what ended up being the game-winning goal in the second period, played a ton of minutes. He kept saying he wasn’t tired, and he wasn’t kidding. Maybe he lied, but he wasn’t showing the fatigue. And after playing an incredible 700 minutes, Keith still had energy to hoist the Conn Smythe as well as that Stanley Cup, the latter for the third time in his career, after the Blackhawks' 2-0 Game 6 victory.

“It’s been really special,” Keith said of these winning seasons. “Obviously, you play with the same guys for a long time and you develop a bond and then when you can win a championship, it just reinforces that. To be able to do it three times we’re all proud of it. We all talked about what it would be like and like I said,we’re just super proud to be part of a group like this.”

As much as Keith always preaches the team-first mentality, he needs to take a heap of credit for himself. When Michal Rozsival went down with a fractured ankle at the end of the second round, Keith and his fellow top defensemen – Niklas Hjalmarsson, Johnny Oduya and Seabrook – knew they’d have to play the extra minutes. Keith constantly played more minutes and constantly deflected the “are you tired” questions. His stamina surprised many, including some of his newer teammates.

“No one more deserving,” Brad Richards said. “Right from the first game against Nashville, I saw a different level of hockey that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen on my team. Just how [he] kept doing it and never showed any signs of fatigue. He’s probably the best player I’ve ever seen live. It was unbelievable what he did out there."

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Those sentiments were echoed by Jonathan Toews, who added “it’s about time” Keith got an individual NHL accolade.

“We all know he’s going to go down as one of the great players to play the game,” Toews said. “In our room we knew that before the playoffs but he keeps proving it time and time again. So I couldn’t be happier for a guy like that. It’s really incredible.”

The Blackhawks got here with a team effort but Keith led the charge. From start to finish, he was the team’s most consistent player. Those minutes apparently didn’t tire him out after all. Still, the chance to relax now isn’t sounding too bad.

“It’s a lot of feelings of happiness obviously but there’s some belief we got the job done,” Keith said. “We can take a breath now.”

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?