Hawk Talk: Teammates in awe of Keith's sacrifice

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Hawk Talk: Teammates in awe of Keith's sacrifice

Tuesday, May 25, 2010
3:36 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

CHICAGO When Duncan Keith took a puck to the face during the second period of Sundays Western Conference finals-clincher over the San Jose Sharks, it seems he didnt flinch. His teammates didnt, either.

When he got hit, I knew hed be back, fellow Chicago Blackhawks alternacap John Madden said. He reacted the smart way. Most guys would just lie on the ice, bleeding. He went to the dressing room to get taken care of as soon as possible.

As it turns out, the procedure to get seven lost teeth taken care of isnt anything youd wish on your most hated enemy.

Duncs told us he had 30 shots of Novocaine in his gums in order to come back, Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane said. I hate needles in the first place, so just hearing that made me squirm.

The young scoring star was clearly in awe of Chicagos leading defenseman, a finalist for the 2009-10 Norris Trophy: Thats the definition of playoff hockey, right there.

Naturally, Keith didnt see his actions as particularly courageous.
My teammates would have done the same thing, he said. Im fine, really. Im eager to get back on the ice.

In fact, its off the ice that, as usual, poses a bigger challenge for the defenseman: I always have trouble getting through interviews, and now its even harder.

Oddly enough, Keith actually feels fortunate that his only injury was some lost chiclets.

In a lot of ways, I was lucky, he said. I didnt break my lip or nose or anything of that magnitude. I feel lucky it wasnt a lot worse.

Of course, when it comes to chides and barbs in the dressing room, the veteran isnt quite so fortunate. As a reward for his valor, Keith is now having to withstand tweaks from his teammates, many of whom already teased him about everything from is low-key demeanor, to his rustic Canadian appearance, to his voice.

He could barely talk before, said a smiling Kris Versteeg. The injury adds to his great face and very, very poor voice.

Hes got a little bit of a lisp now, Kane said. And a million-dollar smile.

Keith admits hes been re-learning to speak without his teeth, and initially, between the Novocain and the lost chiclets, he was pretty hard to understand when he returned to the ice on Sunday.

He was trying to talk to me, but I couldnt understand him, so I just kind of skated away, Kane said, laughing. Sharp told me he did the same thing. So finally Duncan just gave up.

So, what was it Keith was trying to communicate to his teammates?

Said Sundays hero, laughing through his newly-formed gap: Gimme the puck!

Brett Ballantini isCSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnikon Twitter for up-to-the-minute Hawksinformation.

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Comfortable Kero: Quick hits from Blackhawks-Penguins

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USA TODAY

Comfortable Kero: Quick hits from Blackhawks-Penguins

PITTSBURGH – Well, that looked more familiar, didn’t it?

The Blackhawks put talk into action on Wednesday night, storming out to an early lead and never letting up in a 5-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’re sitting in a good spot right now, sporting a nine-point lead over the Minnesota Wild – yes the Wild still has that game in hand – and, with five games remaining, they once again played the complete game they’d been missing.

The schedule doesn’t let up, so let’s get to the notables.

What Worked: The Blackhawks’ first period. If there’s such thing as a statement 20 minutes, the Blackhawks made it in Pittsburgh. If the Penguins made a bad pass, the Blackhawks turned it into an opportunity and, a few times, a goal. The Blackhawks had a similarly sharp first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday. On Wednesday, however, they didn’t lose any steam later.

What Didn’t Work: The power play. Yeah, you really have to reach to find something that didn’t work for the Blackhawks in this one. Their power play, however, didn’t do much. Their best chance on it was a Jonathan Toews shot on their second power play; that shot was blocked before it got to Marc-Andre Fleury. Their third power play, which came on a phantom tripping call on Conor Sheary, was their quietest of the night.

Star of the game: Tanner Kero. The kid’s been alright at second-line center, and he did a little bit of everything on Wednesday night. Kero had five shots on goal, the secondary assist on Artemi Panarin’s early goal and added a breakaway goal of his own early in the third period. He also won five of 11 faceoffs. Centering Patrick Kane and Panarin could be daunting but in his short time there, Kero’s handling it very well.

He Said It: “It’s a nice opportunity that he’s taken advantage of in a short amount of time. You get a little more defensive responsibility. The upside with him is we wanted him to get better offensively as well, so it’s been a good couple of games.” Coach Joel Quenneville on Kero.

By the Numbers: 

850 – Career coaching victories for Quenneville.

524 – Career goals for Marian Hossa, who scored his 25th of the season late in the first period.

39 – Time, in seconds, in which the Blackhawks scored two goals late in the first period (Marcus Kruger at 19:05 and Marian Hossa at 19:44).

6 – Consecutive victories for the Blackhawks over the Penguins. They’ve outscored the Penguins 20-8 over that span.