Lost in the amazing action of Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks was the mano a mano showdown between all-world defensemen Drew Doughty and Duncan Keith. Both played in excess of 24 minutes, scored third period goals, and controlled the tempo of the game from start to finish.
It is important to remember that Keith is this season’s Norris Trophy favorite and Doughty was snubbed by the voters, not making the three finalists. This gave Doughty a chip on his shoulder that he has carried throughout the series, much to the chagrin of the Blackhawks. Doughty’s impact on the series has come in a number of ways including his ever improving physicality. Numerous times in the series Blackhawks forwards have felt the crunch of Doughty’s hip checks that would make former LA great Rob Blake proud.
While Doughty has been the best player on the ice for most of the series Keith had been moderately quiet through the first five games and two periods. That changed quickly in Game 6. Keith’s tying goal set the stage for Hawks superstar Patrick Kane to net the winner and force Game 7. When the puck drops for Game 7 in Chicago Keith will be coming off his best period of the playoffs which will surely benefit the Hawks in their quest to return to the Stanley Cup Final and defend the Stanley Cup.
Hockey is a team game and both teams will need all hands on deck in Game 7, but it begins and ends with the blue line. Whoever plays the better game will almost certainly carry their team to victory and a berth in the Final. As fans all we can do is sit back and enjoy the greatness that Drew Doughty and Duncan Keith possess. They are a treat to watch and anything but to play against, just the way coaches and front office personnel like it.