The key to the Blackhawks beating the Oilers is Duncan Keith
The Chicago Blackhawks are going to need Duncan Keith at his best if they want to get past the Oilers in the play-in series.
The Chicago Blackhawks have been given a prayer by the NHL, as they expanded their playoff format for this crisis-ridden season. Despite being the 12th seed they will face off against the Edmonton Oilers, who won 37 games and were the number 2 seed in the Pacific Division.
The Blackhawks have three Stanley Cups in the recent past and their long road to another one will all depend on their former star defensemen, Duncan Keith.
To start, the Blackhawks are a good team, not great but also not terrible. They had a realistic chance of making a push towards the eighth seed in the West had the season not been canceled.
This series against the Oilers will prove to be a specifically challenging yet promising series. The Hawks have beaten the Oilers in two out of the three times they faced each other this season. They had a 10-9 goal ratio against them.
That’s not bad at all. Not to mention Kane had two goals and two assists in the three matchups, with Toews, Saad, and many others having quality play versus them.
They have the head to head matchup lead.
It all depends on the defense. Which has been, well not the best? Connor Murphy has struggled with turnovers, Olli Maatta has been inconsistent, don’t even mention Brent Seabrook or Calvin de Haan, and Keith has been mediocre.
Even with Keith’s play being lesser than it used to be, that’s expected he is not young anymore. That doesn’t make his role any less important against the Oilers.
Keith is an absolute horse and takes up a lot of time on the ice, 24 minutes a game if anyone is counting. With all that time on the ice, he is vital to the team, but he does have 70 turnovers for the fourth straight season.
Even if it is his 15th season and at the ripe old age of 36, Keith is still by far their best defensive player. He has experience in the playoffs and good play versus the Oilers this season; a +3 in the three games this season.
This Hawks team is old. Older than most in the playoffs, which garners much experience and a long break leading up to the playoffs could help them a lot.
Keith will need to anchor this team and help them get on fast breaks. The Hawks could shake up the Western Conference and make this a possible Hawks Cup run. It all starts with Keith having a good first series versus the Oilers, then after that, all the Hawks fans can start thinking bigger picture.