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Keith playing like a rock star in Chi-town

Sunday, January 24, 2010
By The Province
 

 

Lost amid the rock star sizzle of the Chicago Blackhawks' dressing room full of high-skill forwards is the fact they are leading the NHL in defence.

And at the heart of that not-so-gaudy stat (2.18 goals per game) is a young B.C.-bred defenceman who's established himself, arguably, as the Norris Trophy front-runner two-thirds of the way through the NHL season.

If you're thinking of Tsawwassen's Brent Seabrook, you'd be close but get no cigar, although he's having a fine year.

It's Seabrook's defence partner, Duncan Keith of Penticton, who's taken his game to another level this season, though the 26-year-old was already one of the league's better young D-men.

Keith, better known for playing along with Seabrook against other teams' top lines in a shutdown role, has seen his offensive game blossom this year. He was second in defencemen scoring behind Washington's Mike Green, with 11-35-46 in 48 games heading into Saturday's game with the Canucks. That's two points ahead of last year's career-high 46.

"I take that (the Norris Trophy talk) as a compliment," said Keith before Saturday's game. "It's nice to get talked about it that regard, but there's a lot of hockey left."

So, where has the offence come from? As is often the case, it's all about opportunity -- and Keith has received more power play time this season.

"You get a lot more points on the power play and it's been a lot more fun being there and contributing to that," said Keith, who averages a monstrous 26:29 in ice-time per game. "I've always thought I was a well-rounded player, so it's nice to get that opportunity this year. We have some pretty skilled guys up front, so that certainly helps."

Keith was born in Winnipeg but his family moved at a young age to the tiny town of Fort Frances in Northwestern Ontario. They relocated again to Penticton when Keith was 14 and that's where he played his final two years of minor hockey and first two years of junior.

Keith considers himself a B.C. guy so being selected to Canada's Olympic team -- along with defence partner Seabrook -- has been a dream come true.

"It's going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity," he said. "Any Olympics would be memorable but to have it here is a great feeling and I want it to be a success. My parents are going to be coming down throughout the tournament will a lot of my other family. It'll be pretty special having them be able to experience it all with me."

jjamieson@theprovince.com

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