Chicago Blackhawks Defenseman returns for game 2 against the St. Louis Blues.
ST. LOUIS, — One day after saying Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith was, “just another player on the other team,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock had an addendum.
Keith, who was suspended six games for a high-sticking penalty on March 29th, will make his 2016 Stanley Cup Playoff debut in Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round against the Blues at the Scottrade Center on Friday night. (8pm ET)
The Blues won Game 1 in the first round series 1-0 in overtime on Wednesday night. Hitchcock, who was asked after practice on Thursday about his comment referring to Duncan Keith, said a certain amount of gamesmanship was at the root of it.
“He is not another player,” Hitchcock stated. “If I’m going to start worrying about the opposition, that’s a big mistake. I know the type of player Keith is, but at the end of the day he’s another guy on their team”.
The Blackhawks are hoping that with Keith returning for game 2, it will strengthen their back end. Chicago displayed solid defense in Game 1, but Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Trevor van Riemsdyk each played far above their normal ice time.
Seabrook registered 30:35 on Wednesday night, leading all of the skaters. Hjlmarsson, however played about 80 percent of the 7:49 the Blackhawks spent on the penalty kill. Having Keith back will help remove some of those responsibilities and should bring more balance to the Hawks defensive pairings.
As for Keith, he personally said that he doesn’t plan to change his game but will continue to work on controlling his actions when things heat up. “I compete hard.” he added. “That’s what I try to do and that’s what I’m going to do [in Game 2]. I’m not going to change my game. It’s not the first big game I’ve played in. It’s a game and we want to get the win, and we will find a way to get that win.”
Sitting out for six games gave Keith a chance to rest, but that’s not how he looks at it. “It was tough watching the final five games of the regular season and the Game 1 loss.”
“You want to be out there helping the team out to try and win a hockey game, so that in itself is frustrating, especially with it obviously being a big game like it was,” Keith said. “But I’m excited to get back and play again, and try and do everything I can to help us get a win.”