Monday, September 22, 2008

Season Preview: Duncan Keith

"From playing against him he seems to be becoming a better and better player. He's a real strong skater and with his skating ability and bringing the puck up the ice he can be a real helpful player for the Blackhawks. It's going to help having a skater of that caliber who can bring the puck up the ice."

Yeah - Nicklas Lidstrom said that about Keith. I know we all hate him but he's had a stranglehold on the Norris trophy for this entire decade, save one year where Niedermayer won so he probably knows a good defender when he sees one.

You’ll be able to tell a lot about Hawks fans by the way they look at certain players. Some fans will say Keith had his breakout year last season and we can expect a lot more of the same – others say that Keith hasn’t shown his full potential yet and THIS is the year that he’ll have his true breakout.

Last season the Hawks were pretty crippled by injuries (not an excuse for anything, just a fact) and they really needed their young players to step up. Keith is one of those players that did. Paired with Seabrook for the most part, Keith came into his own and was one of the many highlights of last season. Going into the All-Star break, Keith was averaging over 20 minutes on the ice per game and had a +/- of 14. For his play, Keith was named as the lone Blackhawks representative to the All-Star game (Sharp got screwed).

Keith ended the season +30, which tied him with Zetterberg for 5th overall. He also finished the season averaging 25:33 minutes on the ice, that puts him right at tenth overall for last season. Bringing on Campbell will hopefully help keep Keith’s TOI to a more manageable rate for a young player and hopefully keep him fresher for the post season, assuming that's needed.

As I mentioned in Campbell's preview, Keith is really fucking fast. His speed allows him to get into the mix on offense and still get back in time to make plays on D - just ask the Predators' Legwand, who Keith chased down and caught last year in overtime to save a game. (why can't I find any video of this sort of thing? trust me, it happened though). Keith and Seabrook are well on their way to being a solid shutdown defensive pair and we should expect to see Keith continue to improve. He'll continue to log big minutes, not allow goals when he's on the ice, and probably get his ass kicked if he gets into a fight (please leave that to Seabrook).

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