Blackhawks' Keith ready to shake rust off

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Blackhawks' Keith ready to shake rust off

ST. PAUL, Minn. Duncan Keith has been a spectator for long enough; its time to play again.

Keith will be back in the lineup tonight when the Blackhawks face the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Blackhawks are jockeying for position at this point, a playoff berth already secured last weekend. But for Keith, its a chance to shake the rust off and get back to playing those heavy minutes hes logged over the past few seasons.

So how long will it take Keith to get re-acclimated?

I guess were going to find out, Keith said this morning. Ive played a lot of hockey already so Ill just take the first period, (take) short shifts, keep it simple and go from there.

Indeed, Keiths already logged plenty of ice time this season. Hes second in the league with 26 minutes, 53 seconds of ice time per game this season; former teammate Brian Campbell is first, his TOIgame just two seconds higher. If nothing else, Keith got some much-needed rest.

I feel good and stronger than I was before (the suspension), Keith said recently. So hopefully it pays off.

The Blackhawks went a respectable 2-1-2 without Keith, with fellow defensemen picking up his minutes and responsibilities. Keiths return restores the defensive balance the Blackhawks have enjoyed since Johnny Oduya was acquired at the end of February.

That, and that copious amount of ice time Keith always consumes.

It means a lot to your team as far as what he brings, the quality and quantity of ice he gives us, coach Joel Quenneville said. He plays in all situations and important minutes and brings a lot to our back end, our team, our puck-possession game and quickness in all zones.

As much as Keith didnt like watching instead of playing, he said he did observe a few things in his down time.

I think definitely I learned we have a good team. Thats what I took out of it, he said. I think you always try to look at things, that its real easy playing the game (when youre) sitting upstairs and watching from the chair. There are a lot of good teams; its just a matter of playing as a team like we know how to.

Carl Edwards Jr.'s special tie to Memorial Day

Carl Edwards Jr.'s special tie to Memorial Day

For Carl Edwards Jr., Memorial Day has a special meaning.

That's because the Cubs reliever has a very close tie to the armed services. 

Edwards met his fiance, Nette Smith, before her deployment in Afghanistan. Throughout her active service, Edwards kept in touch by writing her letters. Their relationship eventually blossomed, and now the couple has a one-year-old child. 

With Smith's army commitment finished, she views Memorial Day as a time to appreciate all those who serve. 

"To me, Memorial Day is a day set aside for me to remember some of the people I have met who sacrificed everything," Smith said. 

Watch the couple's entire story in the video above. 

Morning Update: White Sox power past Tigers; Dodgers sweep Cubs

Morning Update: White Sox power past Tigers; Dodgers sweep Cubs

Here are the top Chicago sports stories from Sunday:

Stranger than fiction: Dodgers sweep Cubs as Lester vs. Kershaw doesn’t live up to expectations

Miguel Gonzalez throws six perfect innings as White Sox take series against Tigers

Joe Maddon has no choice but to ignore the noise and put his faith in young Cubs lineup: ‘If you want to freak out, freak out’

Two days out, White Sox already excited about facing former teammate Chris Sale

Fire midfielder Dax McCarty named to U.S. national team roster

Jose Abreu relishing opportunity to help mentor Luis Robert, White Sox newest Cuban addition

How patient will Cubs be with Ian Happ and the rookie learning curve?

Takuma Sato holds off Helio Castroneves to give Andretti another Indy 500 win

Sky continue early season struggles in loss to Sun

Honda Road Ahead: Cubs offense looks to build off showing against Clayton Kershaw