It cannot be stressed enough how valuable Duncan Keith is to the Chicago Blackhawks. As a former Norris Trophy winner, the 30-year-old defenseman from Winnipeg, Manitoba has been vital to the Blackhawks’ 2010 and 2013 Stanley Cup championship teams, as well as an Olympic Gold Medal for Team Canada. This year, Keith looks to be a vital part of the Blackhawks, should they make another run at the Stanley Cup, and he’s having an amazing year, too.
This past week, Keith was named the NHL‘s third star of the week, as he should be. Keith had a least one point in each of the seven games on the Blackhawks’ Circus trip, and made a pair of dazzling saves against Alex Burrows during the Blackhawks’ victory over the Vancouver Canucks. He currently has 23 assists, the third-most in the league.
When asked about how Keith has been playing, head coach Joel Quenneville told the media,”He’s defending well, he’s got a great gap. Offensively, he’s got the puck a lot. His patience and play recognition is high end and he’s getting his shot through. He’s producing points as well. Duncan had a real good stretch, a great trip out west.” Quenneville also (sort of) endorsed him for the Norris Trophy, saying that Keith is “playing on a different level.”
So far this season, Keith has mostly been paired up with his perennial defensive partner Brent Seabrook. The two of them make one of the best defensive pairings in the NHL. Any doubt about that should be tempered by the fact that once coach Quenneville put them back together against the hated Detroit Red Wings, the Hawks came back from a 3-1 deficit in the Western Conference semifinals last year. Keith and Seabrook should always be paired up.
It should be of no surprise that Seabrook is also endorsing Keith. “He’s got great instincts,” Seabrook told the media.
It’s those instincts and his ever-improving skill that have made this possibly his best year so far. It’s thanks to him that the Hawks were able to stay tight with the Canucks, Calgary Flames and the Dallas Stars during the Circus Trip. It’s also thanks to him that they’re first in the Central Division and the Western Conference. We can talk all day about his talent, but his numbers speak for themselves; he as one goal, 23 assists and a +13 rating. In a sense, he’s been aging like fine wine when it comes to his play.
There’s also the fact that he’s reliable. The Blackhawks are lucky to have him on their roster. While others might say Erik Karlsson and PK Subban, the fact of the matter is that Keith should win his second Norris Trophy this year.