May 27, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) clears the puck from in front of goalie Corey Crawford (50) with Anaheim Ducks right wing Corey Perry (10) looking on during the third period in game six of the Western Conference Final of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center. Chicago won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
The Western Conference Finals is coming down a Game 7 in Anaheim on Saturday night. When the Blackhawks entered the playoffs, they were short on the Blue line. Coming into the Ducks series, the Blackhawks were even shorter on defense. With the Michal Rozsival injury and Kimmo Timmonen being worthless, the big four defenseman were going to have to shoulder more of the defensive load. Since the Rozsival injury Duncan Keith has raised his game to a whole new level. Keith has elevated his game to heights that nobody could have foreseen. Keith has been the best players in the Playoffs this year. Keith is better than Patrick Kane, Steven Stamkos, Corey Perry, and many others in the playoffs. This is not a bias opinion, the national pundits have Keith as the favorite for the Conn Symthe trophy. If I had a vote for the Conn Symthe, Keith would get my vote. If the Blackhawks advanced and ultimately win the Stanley Cup, Keith would be third Blackhawks to win the trophy during their championships runs.
How is Keith getting done?? Well he is on the ice A LOT. Keith is averaging a ridiculous a 31:49 minutes of ice per game. That is up from his time during the regular season. He only averaged 25:34 per game during the regular season. Keith is the NHL playoff leader in average ice time. People should not forget that the Blackhawks have played in two multiple overtime games, where Keith played HEAVY minutes. In Game 1 of Nashville series Keith played 39:51 minutes, which is an INSANE amount. The funny thing is Keith exceeded that time played in Game four of the Nashville series, playing 46:19 in the triple overtime victory. Despite all of the minutes played, Keith’s game has not suffered in fact he has gotten better throughout the playoffs. In the playoffs Keith has 2 goals 14 assists and is a PLUS 11 rating.
In Game 6 alone, Keith played 28:35 and assisted on the Blackhawks first three goals of the game. Keith has been the backbone of the Blackhawks defense making qualify play after quality play. In Game 6, with the Blackhawks clinging to the lead Keith saved the game tying goal with his quick stick by the net. Keith wiped the puck off the line and out of the blue paint in a flash.
Everyone lavishes praise on Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane, but Duncan Keith has been MORE important than both those players in these playoffs. Keith is on the ice more than any other player and he is making the most of his time on the ice. Keith and the Blackhawks willed themselves to a victory in Game 6 of the playoffs.
Can Keith in the Blackhawks will themselves to a Win Game 7?? We will find out on Saturday night.
Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals is on NBC at 7:00pm Central Standard time.