Duncan Keith

Four takeaways: Alex DeBrincat salvages divisional game for Blackhawks in overtime on Duncan Keith’s special night

Four takeaways: Alex DeBrincat salvages divisional game for Blackhawks in overtime on Duncan Keith’s special night

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues at the United Center on Saturday night:

1. Special night for Duncan Keith — and Brent Seabrook

The Blackhawks celebrated Keith's 1,000-game milestone in the perfect way. Every player wore a No. 2 jersey during warmups, his family was on the ice for the pregame ceremony, and Patrick Sharp made an appearance to present Keith with a silver stick. Seabrook was also paired with Keith among the starters, a great touch by Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff.

But it was also a historic day for Keith's partner and close friend Seabrook, who became the franchise leader in games played by a defenseman, surpassing Bob Murray who previously held that mark at 1,008. It's only fitting Keith and Seabrook shared that moment together.

"We've been riding shotgun together for our whole careers," Keith said. "I couldn't imagine my career, my 1,000 games without him and all the experiences and memories that I've had winning and even losing, and the fun times we've had off the ice. I owe a lot of my success, and I think the team does as well, to Brent and what he means to the team and what he brings to our friendship and as a teammate."

To put a bow on the game, Keith had a vintage Keith moment on the game-tying goal in the third period when he intercepted a pass in the neutral zone on his backhand, then fed Toews a dart leading him into the offensive zone that set up DeBrincat's goal. 

2. Alex DeBrincat's torrid start

The Blackhawks continued to get contributions from their top players such as Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, both of whom extended their point streaks to five games to open the season. But DeBrincat has propelled himself into that conversation as a top player on this team.

He had a multi-goal effort for the second straight game, upping his goal total on the season to a team-leading six. His overtime winner is the first of his NHL career in that fashion.

DeBrincat didn't score his sixth goal until Nov. 12 last season, which was the 18th game. And he still finished with 28. While it's hard to envision him continuing to score at more than a goal-per-game pace, it's not hard to see him continuing to be one of the best players on the ice and generating offense and scoring chances on a nightly basis.

"I think I'm getting pretty lucky right now," DeBrincat said. "I'm playing with [Toews] and [Dominik] Kahun, they're making great plays and getting me the puck. It's pretty easy when you have those guys as your linemates. Even on that last goal, [Erik Gustafsson] made a great pass backdoor to me. Pretty easy tap in."

3. Squandering another two-goal lead

The Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead for the third straight game. And they squandered it for the third straight game, in large part because they committed five straight penalties in the second and third periods.

It's no longer a blip at this point and is becoming an alarming trend, even though the Blackhawks have come back to force overtime in each of those three games. That will be something the Blackhawks work on all season long.

But Quenneville would have liked to have seen the Blackhawks keep their foot on the gas pedal and cash in on their opportunities to make it a 3-0 game.

"Score the third goal," he said. "I loved the way we were playing. We had a lot of good things going. Eventually they’re going to get chances, get opportunities. But we had some great chances to get it to three. It was one of those nights, every game is kind of different how the leads changed."

4. Brotherly love

For the first time in the NHL, the Schmaltz brothers finally got their chance to go up against each other at the highest level. There had been a handful of other opportunities in the past, but it never lined up for a variety of reasons. 

They didn't see much of each other while on the ice — they were on together for only 1:30 of the game — but Nick did commit a penalty that led to Jordan assisting on the Blues' first goal on a delayed call. 

The best battles between Jordan, who turned 25 on Oct. 8, and Nick, 22, came when they were kids.

"We had a little roller rink downstairs in our house growing up," Nick said. "It would be me vs. my sister (Kylie) and my brother. Those were probably the best battles. Someone would usually come up crying or high-stick or puck to the face or something like that. A lot of good memories. Looking back at it, it was awesome to have that and work on each other’s game and push each other to get better."

Duncan Keith on 1,000 NHL games with Blackhawks: 'I'm proud of it'

Duncan Keith on 1,000 NHL games with Blackhawks: 'I'm proud of it'

Duncan Keith is set to become the sixth player in Blackhawks history and 12th active player in the NHL to hit the 1,000-game mark on Saturday against the St. Louis Blues. It's not usually a milestone players set out to reach when their career starts, but one that you certainly appreciate when you hit it and look back at how everything unfolded.

"It's obviously a huge accomplishment," Keith said. "I'm proud of it. More than anything I'm proud to be in the NHL this long and play with a lot of great players and a great organization for a great coach. Just all the good players and good guys that I've been able to be on this ride with."

One player who's been there with Keith from Day 1 is Brent Seabrook, who joined the 1K club last season on March 29 against the Winnipeg Jets — overshadowed by The Scott Foster Game. They've been roommates, teammates, defense partners and have grown to become close friends.

"It has been a long marriage," said Seabrook, who is set to surpass Bob Murray as the franchise leader in games played by a defenseman with 1,009. "We've had our marital spats over the years and all that, but he's a great guy. It was never personal between the two of us. We wanted to win, especially when we were playing a lot of minutes together in a lot of big games. We wanted the best out of each other, and the was part of pushing each other to be the best.

"That was when our fights would boil over, but [when] the game was over we were back to good buddies, best buddies and just enjoying it. We've always had the same goal. We want to win, we want to continue to win and we want to continue to give ourselves opportunities to win the Stanley Cup."

The Blackhawks don't win three Stanley Cups without Keith, who's a two-time Norris Trophy recipient and a Conn Smythe winner. He has been an absolute anchor on the back end for Chicago since he arrived in the NHL in 2005. 

But his value wasn't appreciated until the Blackhawks made the playoffs and you realized how many minutes he would eat up, important ones at that. Nobody has played heavier minutes than Keith, who always looked like he could go longer — just ask CM Punk — despite a handful of triple overtime games that saw him log around 50 minutes.

"The more he plays, the more he likes it, the better he plays," coach Joel Quenneville said. "For a number of years and a number of games, and the bigger the games, the more he would play. It's not normal. But now not too many guys are up over 25 [minutes] in today's game. ... But he has done it for a long time."

And there's no desire to scale it back either, mostly because Keith doesn't want to, even at age 35.

"That's a question that's always been there," Quenneville said. "In the past, it's not even a consideration because he's fine. He's always fine. He's like, 'No, I'm fine.' It's the last thing he's worried about it being cut back and if you want to cut back he looks at you like, 'Why?' It's one of those things that he wants to play like every single player that's in any position, they want to play and they want to play more and in his situation, more might be a little too much."

Keith has been the Blackhawks' most important player on defense for more than a decade. He still is. And he's still got a lot of hockey left in the tank.

“What a great career he’s had,” Patrick Kane said. “You look at two Norris Trophies, three Cups, a Conn Smythe Trophy, how well he’s played in the playoffs, how he’s able to come in in tip-top shape every year and be able to play so many minutes, be the backbone of our defense for a long time here. Even though he’s played 1,000 games, it doesn’t seem like he’s getting any older or slowing down. Pretty impressive.”

Duncan Keith is 'not even tired' as he plays 1,000th game

Duncan Keith is 'not even tired' as he plays 1,000th game

“Not even tired.”

That’s the text Duncan Keith sent to his buddy CM Punk after a triple overtime game during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Keith’s time on ice was north of 46 minutes.

Playing in 1,000 NHL regular season games is impressive, but it takes on a different meaning when you examine the actual minutes Keith has played.

Since the 2005-06 season nobody in the NHL has played more minutes in the regular season or the playoffs than Duncan. He has logged over 25,000 regular season minutes and nearly 3,600 minutes in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Former NHL players insist that playoff minutes are at least twice as taxing on the body as any regular season contest. Joel Quenneville believes that Keith has experienced more than his share of punishing ice time.

“The minutes that he's played in these games are high end," Quenneville said. "He had those playoff games in the series knowing that he could be targeted. It just seems like the as the season got deeper and more intense his ice time would increase and he'd handle it like nothing.”

Brent Seabrook welcomes his blue line brother to the 1K games club and knows that Keith battled through numerous injuries that were kept quiet.

“I don’t know if he gets enough recognition for how tough he actually is," Seabrook said. "He’s been through a lot of little things here and there, that a lot of people don’t know about and he continues to play through it. I think the 2015 series was really where you saw him take a stranglehold and put a stamp on it. Seeing what he went through before games and in between games at hotels, things like that and what he was able to do on the ice...he’s just an impressive player, someone I look up to.”

I asked Keith what his son, Colton, may learn someday from his dad’s hockey career. His response, “Everything starts with hard work. I know that’s a simple thing to say, but to me whatever you want to do in life... you have to want it and you have to be willing to do things that other people aren’t willing to do. A lot of that stems from out working and working harder than the person next to you. I think that will propel you through to whatever you want to become.”

25,190 regular season minutes, 3,552 playoff minutes and counting….“Not even tired.”