ST. LOUIS – Duncan Keith had as big a smile as he’s ever had for a regular season game following Saturday morning’s skate.
Keith returns just a few days shy of the minimum four weeks he was expected to miss after having right-knee surgery for a torn meniscus. But for a player who’s missed so little time in his career, those four weeks seemed long enough.
“I just thought I was getting more anxious to get out there as time went on and near the time I was going to be ready to play,” Keith said. “The last few games were kind of tough to sit and watch. I wanted to get out there.”
Saturday, he will.
Keith and Michal Rozsival will both be in the lineup when the Blackhawks face the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center. Keith has looked good in recent practices and is expected to pair with Niklas Hjalmarsson. How many minutes he plays and whether he plays again Sunday night against the Calgary Flames is unknown right now. Keith isn’t getting too ahead of himself.
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“I’m just focused on today and having a good start like the rest of the guys and trying to get my legs going,” Keith said. “I feel good.”
Current Blues/former Blackhawks forward Troy Brouwer isn’t surprised Keith’s already back.
“He’s one who’s very particular about his body and how he treats it. I can guarantee you there would be no setbacks with him,” Brouwer said. “He always wants to be in the lineup... going back to the playoffs a few years ago, losing half his teeth, he doesn’t miss a shift. The fact he’s back early is no surprise. And I know especially with how they’re playing right now, he wants to be back to help out.”
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The Blues came back from a 5-2 deficit to beat the Blackhawks 6-5 last week but they’ll be seeing a more complete Hawks team this time. The Blackhawks were missing Keith, Rozsival and Marian Hossa (lower-body injury) last Wednesday.
“When you add those two defensemen into the lineup and add Hossa, this is a completely different team. They look like they’re full tonight. This will be a great evaluation for where we’re at,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “A guy like Duncan just completely changes the dynamic for both teams. He’s as dangerous defensively as offensively, so this will be a good challenge for us.”