With scoring once again a point of emphasis around the NHL and spacing around the ice more important than ever, the role of defenseman has continued to evolve from a physical presence and deterrent to finesse, to a contributor and scorer on the offensive end of the ice.
With the rebirth of a stagnant franchise on and off the ice, the Chicago Blackhawks have found the model for their defensive philosophy in the form of Duncan Keith, the 2010 Norris Trophy winner. A leader in the locker room and now entering his ninth full season in the league, Keith’s role is just as prevalent as it was when he was appointed to an Alternate Captain during the 2008-09 season.
Seriously though, it’s important to remember that Keith is a bonafide veteran in this league, but does not appear to be losing production or hitting the wall any time soon. Going into the season, Keith was ranked the fourth best defenseman in the league by ESPN, and is coming off a season in which he has 27 points and a +16 rating.
This year, Keith’s numbers are excellent, while averaging 24:24 in ice time, on line with last season’s average of 24:07. Keith’s ice time is notable, always one of the most on the team, and 21st in the league.
What Keith does when on the ice as well continues to be stunning; 12 points on 12 assists to go along with 47 shots on goal show that Keith’s offensive prowess is still with him. The quest for a repeat continues to look more and more legitimate for the Blackhawks, and when playoff time arrives, Keith will ideally be there to lead the defense.
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