Keith's time to shine for Hawks

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:30 PM ET

CALGARY — As a top-line defenceman, Duncan Keith is charged with shutting down every other team’s top scorers.

On some nights, he could brag to them that he’s scored just as much as they have this season.

That would be the case Thursday night when the Blackhawks face the Flames at the Dome.

Keith and defence partner Brent Seabrook will quite obviously hit the ice when Jarome Iginla jumps over the boards, but Keith has actually tallied more points this season (45) than the Flames captain (43).

For the fifth-year blueliner from Penticton, B.C., the total is already a career-high and adds another dimension to what was already a well-rounded game.

“It’s a few things,” said Keith about the points, which includes 10 goals.

“For one thing, I’ve tried to be involved a little more. I’ve always enjoyed being involved in the offence and that’s never really changed.

“What has changed is getting an opportunity to be on the powerplay. Naturally when you are on the powerplay you get extra points you normally wouldn’t get.

“On top of that, we have a skilled group of forwards, so if you get the puck into them on a breakaway, like (Tuesday) night with (Marian) Hossa (on a shorthanded goal)... if he doesn’t score, I don’t get the assist.

“We have so many skilled players, it’s just be fun to be part of this group.”

Keith has officially earned his breakout status this season. After signing a 13-year, $72-million extension early in the year, the 26-year-old was named to the Canadian Olympic team.

Because Keith plays so well with Seabrook, both players were brought on board and will likely work as a tandem in Vancouver.

As of Wednesday, Keith sat second in scoring among NHL blueliners in both goals and points, and that production is a pleasant surprise for the Hawks.

“He’s having a great year,” said head coach Joel Quenneville. “I don’t think we’ve envisioned the offensive production we’ve had to date.

“He’s showing offensive zone patient and taking good shots. In all zones, he’s been very good. He has the puck a lot and his decision making with the puck is improving.”

One thing Keith is doing well is placing the puck well from the point, making it easy to tip or accept passes.

“I worked on my shot this summer,” Keith said. “More than anything, I try to hit the net. It’s no secret you won’t get anything going unless you hit the net. It’s created more offence as well.”

There is talk about Keith being up for the Norris Trophy, but he puts the brakes on that.

“There’s a lot of season left,” Keith said. “There’s 30 games left and I feel like I haven’t done anything yet.”


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