Blackhawks

Blackhawks

Duncan Keith will return to the lineup Wednesday night after being out with a groin injury since Nov. 29. 

"It feels good now," Keith said. "I'm going to focus on what I got to do out there and not worry about it."

The two-time Norris trophy winner missed nine games while sidelined with the injury. The Hawks recorded a 3-5-1 record during his absence. 

"It was frustrating," Keith said. "[They] get on the road, miss the mother's trip, but at the same time try to take as many positives as I can out of it. I feel good energy-wise, I feel strong, ready to do whatever the team needs me to do."

The long wait also helped the veteran defenseman recharge his batteries.

"You got energy, you get that hunger," Keith said. "You get different perspectives sitting out there watching the games. When the team's on the road, watching the game from the living room. You get excited, there's an excitement level there to get back in."

The Blackhawks, who won their last game 5-3 at home against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday, will be taking on the speedy and skilled Colorado Avalanche Wednesday, who are in second place in the Central division and Western Conference.

"It's huge," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said of Keith's return. "He does a lot of different things for our team. Whether he goes out there and scores three points or whatever it doesn't really matter. 

"He eases the burden on all our other defensemen and he's on the PP, PK, big minutes for us doing a lot of little things. Definitely don't realize sometimes what a guy like that brings to the team every night until he's [out]." 

 

Chicago, 13-15-6, will lean on Keith to improve a defense that has struggled — but shown signs of improvement recently — and help them climb out of last place in the Central.

"He's a real good player obviously and we missed him," Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "When you don't have him it certainly highlights what he does for us in all situations, makes the guys he's playing with better. 

"So, excited he's healthy too because he was kind of battling it for a while. Back to 100 percent and should have a lot of energy."

Seabrook out

Someone had to come out of the lineup to make room for Keith and it was Keith's former D partner Brent Seabrook. It will be the third time the blueliner has been a healthy scratch this season.

"Obviously we’ve got to find a spot for Dunc and we have some young players who’ve played well," Colliton said of scratching Seabrook. "With where we are, we can’t expect to make improvements, turn this thing around, if we don’t give opportunity to young players. Obviously, Seabrook comes out tonight."

As one would imagine, breaking the news to the longtime member of the Hawks leadership wasn't fun.

"Yeah, it’s not my favorite thing about doing the job," Colliton said. "But that’s part of what we have to do is give communication and feedback and ultimately it’s what’s best for the team."

Seabrook has three goals, one assist and a +/- rating of +1 in 32 games this season.