Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Major minutes child's play for Duncan Keith

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Blackhawks: Major minutes child's play for Duncan Keith

Duncan Keith’s always logged a lot of ice time, even in regulation games; it’s just part of his makeup, dating back to his childhood.

“Maybe all those years of being on an outdoor rink all day long — when you play seven or eight hours as a kid — kind of makes playing five or six periods not that much,” Keith said.

Well, it’s one thing to play hours upon hours as a kid. You have boundless energy during those years. Playing 46 minutes in a triple-overtime game as a 31-year-old seems just a tad more daunting. In Keith’s case, though, apparently not. The Blackhawks defenseman played a long time and played well on Tuesday night, when the Blackhawks edged the Nashville Predators 3-2 in Game 4 of their first-round series.

[MORE: Blackhawks win triple-OT thriller over Predators in Game 4]

For Keith, this just comes with the postseason overtime-game drill: chances are he’ll log a lot of minutes and play in a lot of situations.

“I feel a little bit better than I did after Game 1,” said Keith, who played just under 40 minutes and had the game-winning goal in Game 1, a double-overtime contest. “I’m not sure if that’s just because the body gets used to it. Just like everybody else, you try to get as much sleep as you can and recovery as far as your nutrition and rest and I’m just doing all the little things to try and get your body ready to go at it again tomorrow night.”

As active as Keith was on the ice on Tuesday night, he was apparently as vocal during the intermissions.

“He was the one talking in the locker room, saying, ‘Let’s just wait these guys out. Let’s just be patient. Let’s just be smart. We can wear them out and find that one mistake they’re going to make, and we’re going to capitalize on it,’” Jonathan Toews said. “He was with it. He could play another 46 minutes I’m sure. He was willing to do whatever it took to win last night, for sure.”

[SHOP: Get a Duncan Keith jersey here]

Coach Joel Quenneville said following Game 4 that it was no surprise that Keith could play those minutes and play them well. He’s done it over enough regular seasons — Keith was seventh in the NHL in time on ice/game this season, averaging 25 minutes, 33 seconds a night. Despite leading the team in TOI/game — Brent Seabrook is next at 22:10 a night — Keith downplays the marathon outings.

“I know it’s a lot of hockey, a lot of games in a short period of time. I think we’ve got a lot of guys on the team who played a lot of minutes,” he said. “It’s no different there where when we do have time off you try to recover and do the best job you can to get the body ready to go for the next game.”

Playing a ton of minutes is just what Keith does. If it’s taxing, he’s not saying. Perhaps he’s channeling his inner kid, the one who used to play outdoor hockey for hours on end, even today.

“I think as I’ve gotten older I’ve been smarter in researching and learning ways to take care of the body. I think that helps,” Keith said. “I feel the same way I did when I was 22.”

NHL Draft Profile: D Evan Bouchard

NHL Draft Profile: D Evan Bouchard

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Evan Bouchard

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 193 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"A highly intelligent defenseman with exceptional vision and offensive instincts. He reads the play very well and his passing ability allows him to be a constant threat in his team's transition game. He's one of the top offensive-defenseman in the Canadian Hockey League and magician-like when quarterbacking the power play."

NHL player comparable: John Carlson/Alex Pietrangelo

Fit for Blackhawks:

At 6-foot-2, 193 pounds, Bouchard is one of the most NHL-ready defensemen in this year's draft and that could be appetizing for a team like the Blackhawks, who are looking for immediate help on the blue line. But Bouchard is a right-handed shot, and drafting him would add a third high-end right-handed shot defenseman to the organization, along with prospects Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell.

You can never have enough of them, but there's only room for three before somebody would have to play on their off hand and that would mean the third would be playing on the bottom pairing. All three of these players have Top 4 potential.

Still, that may not even come into play here. The Blackhawks will seek to take the best available player, like they always have. And if they feel it's Bouchard, they'll do it.

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Brady Tkachuk

Position: Forward
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 196 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"I know Tkachuk isn't a center, but Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) is another player who comes to mind with his combination of size, strength, skill and nastiness. Tkachuk has impressive hand skills and his upside has only begun because I think there's lots of maturity and growth to come. I've seen his speed and skating improve each of the past three years and I think he'll still get stronger and his balance will get better. His man strength will come and it'll be like, 'Oh boy, look out.'"

NHL player comparable: Matthew Tkachuk/Wayne Simmonds

Fit for Blackhawks:

If you're looking for a player that checks all the boxes in this year's draft, it's Tkachuk. And man could the Blackhawks use a player like him.

He's got offensive skill, willingly goes to the greasy areas, can provide net-front presence while playing a top-six role, and perhaps the most important part for the Blackhawks: he's very close to NHL ready. The Blackhawks will be patient with whoever they draft, but there's also some urgency to turn things around in 2018-19.

If they can draft a player like Tkachuk who can potentially jump into the lineup as early as this upcoming season, that would be ideal. Because he's the type of player that can make an impact, not just get by.