Chicago Blackhawks: Opening Night Defensive Pairs

By Skylar Peters
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Mar 29, 2015; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks defenceman

Duncan Keith

(2) hits the puck during the second period against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

First Pairing

Duncan KeithTrevor Daley

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The Blackhawks picked up Daley as a ‘humble’ return in the Patrick Sharp trade, and with Johnny Oduya following Sharp to Dallas via free-agency just days later, the door is wide open for Daley to step in and make an impact immediately. Though he wasn’t thought of as a top-pairing defenseman when the Blackhawks acquired him, Daley’s inclusion alongside the reigning Conn Smythe trophy winner creates balance between not only left and right-handed shots, but the entire defensive corps, top to bottom.

The jury is still out on just how Daley will fit in, but his physicality will be a nice contrast to Keith’s skating ability and offensive mind. Daley will have to prove his worth as a two-way defenseman to keep this combination running, as he will certainly be doing a lot of skating alongside No. 2. If he is able to make good passes up the ice, and minimize turnovers in the neutral and defensive zones, the Blackhawks could find themselves a diamond in the rough here on their blue-line.

After another stellar season, capped off with an incredible playoff run, Keith leaves no doubt. He seems like more machine than man on the ice most nights, and without question he is perennially the best defenseman in the NHL. Keith has accepted bigger challenges than this one presented to him with Daley, so acclimating the Blackhawks’ newest defensive addition shouldn’t be a long or dreadful process at all.

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