Tag: Duncan Keith

2012 NHL Winter Classic Announcement

On the difference between ‘good’ and ‘big-time’ players


Let’s forget for just one second that Mike Babcock has a big decision to make about his future. This post isn’t an attempt to handicap where he’ll end up. We’ve already done plenty of that this season.

This post is applicable to fans of all 30 teams, not just those of the Detroit Red Wings. Because, for me, the one thing that Babcock said last night that really stood out was, per Yahoo Sports, the following:

“In the end, you’ve got to have big-time players up the middle and on the back to be successful. So those are questions in our organization that we work towards, drafting good and developing good, but we’ve been winning too much (in the regular season to get high draft picks). That’s the facts.”

When the Wings last won the Cup, they had two “big-time” centers in Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg and one “big-time” defenseman in Nicklas Lidstrom.

Not just “good,” but “big-time.” As in, future Hall of Famers. Elite. Best of the best.

Since Lidstrom retired, the Wings have not been past the second round of the playoffs.

In a related story, the Philadelphia Flyers never recovered from losing Chris Pronger and the future of the Boston Bruins is in question with an aging Zdeno Chara.

The last five Stanley Cup winners have featured one of Chara, Duncan Keith or Drew Doughty. All three are future Hall of Famers.

As for “up the middle,” Babcock asked last night, “Who’s going to replace Pav?” That’s a good question, because Datsyuk will turn 37 in July. A winner of three Selke Trophies, he’s one of the best two-way forwards in the history of the game.

Another related story: the last five Stanley Cup winners have featured one of Jonathan Toews, Patrice Bergeron, or Anze Kopitar. Again, all three are future Hall of Famers.

Meanwhile, there’s a reason there’s so much excitement in Edmonton about Connor McDavid, a center. Yet equally important will be the development of d-man Darnell Nurse.

Ditto for Buffalo, where there’s plenty of excitement for Jack Eichel; just don’t overlook the development of Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov.

And for all the strife we’ve seen in Toronto, Leafs fans can at least be hopeful about Morgan Rielly and William Nylander. Toronto hasn’t had a “big-time” center since Mats Sundin. And did you know the Leafs, an Original Six franchise, have never had a Norris Trophy winner? The closest any Toronto blue-liner has come in the modern era is Borje Salming. The Leafs have not won a Stanley Cup in the modern era.

Look, nobody’s saying a team absolutely has to have a Norris Trophy winner on defense and a Selke Trophy/Hart Trophy winner at center. There are always going to be exceptions. The 2006 Hurricanes didn’t have an elite d-man, though people sometimes forget they had Rod Brind’Amour, a two-time Selke winner.

The thing is, you don’t build a team based on the exceptions. Otherwise, every NFL team would be looking for the next Trent Dilfer.

“We’ve got lots of good young players, no question about it, and ideally we’ve got some good ones coming,” Babcock said.

But are any going to be “big-time” centers or defensemen?

Not just good.


Keith conquers: Blackhawks come back, eliminate Predators

Nashville Predators at Chicago Blackhawks

The Nashville Predators aren’t a common playoff threat for the Chicago Blackhawks, so in some ways, this blistering first-round series feels different. Even so, the usual suspects keep coming up big for the Blackhawks, so the script ended up being familiar enough.

Brent Seabrook scored the game-winner in that epic triple-OT contest in Game 4. Duncan Keith was the difference-maker not once, but twice. Patrick Kane was shockingly productive in this series even short of 100 percent; Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa were their usual dominant selves.

It almost felt inevitable when Keith scored the last game-winner, as close as this series was:

With plenty of overtime action in this series, Predators – Blackhawks felt like a seven-game classic. Chicago was able to make enough plays to end it in six, however, beating Nashville in another thriller by a score of 4-3.

Things were wild and woolly in the opening frame. James Neal scored two early goals, and after the teams traded tallies for a 3-1 Nashville lead, Joel Quenneville gave Scott Darling the hook in favor of Corey Crawford.

It wasn’t advantage: Predators for very long, however. Jonathan Toews scored on the power play and Patrick Kane fired a laser beam home late in the first to tie it up 3-3.

There was plenty of action after that, but Chicago was unable to take advantage of a significant advantage in play in the second period, including a 12-7 shot advantage. In general, it seemed like the Blackhawks were locking in to try to put away the Predators, yet both Crawford and Pekka Rinne held strong through much of the action, making for more tight proceedings.

Ultimately, Rinne was unable to turn aside an unrelenting Blackhawks attack culminating with Keith’s game-winner.

With that, the Blackhawks advance to the next round while the Predators’ surprisingly excellent season ends in heartbreak.

Time will tell if Nashville can bounce back and turn this one-off series into a budding rivalry. Whatever happens in 2015-16 and beyond, this was one of those rare gems that may very well convert new fans to the sport.

… Even if the ultimate outcome might seem predictable to some.

That’s Darling: Blackhawks win OT thriller against Preds

Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith

The Chicago Blackhawks edged the Nashville Predators 4-3 in double overtime in a game that had just about everything.

Most obviously, it had a huge comeback, as the Blackhawks shrugged off a 3-0 deficit after the first period to win a dramatic contest.

It also had some controversy, as Duncan Keith may have gotten away with a penalty in the first OT. He then proved to be the hero as he scored the game-winner.

Some will say this was a collapse, and to some extent, it was. Still, it’s not as if the Predators went into full turtle mode in this game. Scott Darling tormented Nashville from the moment he took over for Corey Crawford, making all 42 shots in more than three periods of dazzling work.

The Predators fired a franchise playoff-record 54 shots on goal, but only scored against Crawford. Some may be sour about this Keith non-penalty, but the bottom line is that Nashville is down 1-0.

Patrick Kane made a difference, grabbing two assists, including this impressive helper:

Losing a lengthy, fast-paced game obviously has to sting Nashville, especially since they dropped this one at home. Still, if Game 1 is any indication, this could be a first-round series for the ages.

Here’s one fearless prediction: the Predators will face Scott Darling from the first puck drop of Game 1. That’s not official, however:

In fact, maybe it should be a fearful prediction:

Either way, Darling made an impression on Wednesday.

Video: Controversial calls (and non-calls) dominate first OT of Blackhawks-Preds


Ah, the old debate between calling penalties in the big stages versus “letting them play.”

It’s possible that no one was happy during the first overtime of Wednesday’s thrilling Game 1 between the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators, as two officiating calls went back-to-back to furrow many brows.

Some might argue that the Blackhawks were “owed a call” after Brad Richards was whistled for high-sticking. Maybe officials swallowed their whistles when Duncan Keith broke up a breakaway attempt through what may not have been legal techniques.

That was controversial enough, but the crowd really turned on the officials when Seth Jones received a two-minute minor for what seemed like a trivial tripping infraction … depending upon who you ask.

Obviously, no one scored on the two power plays in the overtime period, which probably left the officials breathing a sigh of relief (however they feel about those calls).

Is everything OK with the Blackhawks?

Zach Parise, Corey Crawford

Maybe they just really miss Patrick Kane. He’s a pretty good player, right?

Still, something just doesn’t seem 100-percent right with the Chicago Blackhawks. And, frankly, it didn’t before Kane got hurt.

In 2015, starting with the Winter Classic loss in D.C., the ‘Hawks are a pedestrian 23-16-4. They’ve had a couple of four-game winning streaks during that stretch, but never really any sustained momentum. They’ve been shut out or held to one goal 13 times.

Analytics-wise, in those 43 games, their score-adjusted Fenwick ranks 14th in the NHL.

In their first 37, it ranked first.

Perhaps the ‘Hawks just got a little too comfortable after starting out so well in October, November, and December.

“They seemed the more desperate hockey team tonight,” forward Kris Versteeg said after last night’s 2-1 loss to Minnesota. “Those guys were really fighting for their lives over there.”

The ‘Hawks haven’t had to fight for their lives all season.

Whether it’s an overreaction or not, clearly a segment of the fan base is sensing trouble:

Look, nobody’s writing off a team with Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, and possibly Kane. At online sportsbook Bovada, only the Rangers (6/1) are more heavily favored than the ‘Hawks (8/1) to win the Stanley Cup.

Something seems off, though.

Related: Blackhawks’ decision-making was ‘tough to watch’ last night