The Blackhawks have been hit by the injury bug this season, but they'll be getting a major boost on defense soon.
After skating on his own for the past few days, Duncan Keith returned to practice on Monday for the first time since suffering a groin injury on Nov. 29 against the Colorado Avalanche. He's hopeful to return on Wednesday, but the team is taking it day by day.
"I'm feeling good," Keith said. "It's weird sitting out like that and forced to watch but been rehabbing and feeling good and better and better every day."
Keith said he had been dealing with the groin injury on the right side for about a month before it worsened on the left side in the game against Colorado. His last shift came at the midway mark of the second period on a breakaway goal from Valeri Nichushkin, but the tweak came on his previous shift.
"It had been sore and the shift before that I felt a pop and I thought maybe I could play because I'd been playing through on the right side for a while," Keith said. "It's kind of weird, I've never had groin problems in my career but sometimes mechanically when you've had a few injuries, if you don't keep up on balancing things out in your body you can develop those compensations and I think that's what happened, so I've been working hard to straighten those things out and hopefully it stays better now.
"On that play I thought maybe I could give it a try and then that guy Nichushkin blew out of the gate there and I couldn't do anything, I couldn't move."
Keith has been out of the lineup for the past nine games and the Blackhawks are 3-5-1 over that span. They've certainly missed his presence and Keith admitted it was difficult watching his teammates go through those struggles and not being able to do anything about it.
His return, whenever that may be, will bring some stability to a Blackhawks blue line that hasn't had it recently with Calvin de Haan out.
"It's tough," Keith said. "You definitely get a different perspective watching. It's always easier when you're watching, but it's tough. You're going on the road and we were playing in some tough buildings there in Vegas, and Arizona's playing well, and obviously St. Louis isn't an easy building to play in. It's a close game. But they did a good job on the mom's trip. It's just try to get that consistency going here and just build off last night."
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