Tag: Duncan Keith

Blackhawks even series against Ducks with triple OT win in longest game in franchise history


The marathon finally came to an end.

The Chicago Blackhawks, in what was the longest game in their franchise’s long history, prevailed over the Anaheim Ducks by a final score of 3-2 in triple overtime, which evens this Western Conference Final up at 1-1.

Marcus Kruger was in the right spot at the right time. He managed to tap the puck over the goal line to score the winner at the 16:12 mark of the third overtime period. Before the Kruger goal, you had to go all the way back to 6:19 of the first period for Chicago’s second goal of the evening.

“No, it’s a great feeling. We almost played two games out there. To put it in and get a big win here, leaving California with 1-1, we’re pretty satisfied with,” Kruger told reporters.

“Going back to Chicago, it’s going to be a great feeling stepping out there on the United Center.”

The series now shifts back to Chicago for Games 3 and 4.

The Ducks will lament three goal posts hit during the overtime session. They also couldn’t get that one final goal by Corey Crawford, who was sensational, making 60 saves for the win. At the other end, Frederik Andersen was just as good, making 53 saves in the second longest game in Ducks’ franchise history.

This game seemed to have a little bit of everything.

Chicago felt it had the OT winner in the second extra period, when Andrew Shaw head-butted the puck into the net. After a brief review, the goal was waved off.

Crawford, who looked completely exhausted at times during stoppages in play in the third overtime, tried to throw a hit on Rickard Rakell and fell over, with a scrum ensuing.

And Chicago was victorious essentially leaning on four defensemen for the majority of six periods. Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brent Seabrook and Johnny Oduya each played more than 45 minutes, while Kimmo Timonen and Kyle Cumiskey were both under 20 minutes of ice time.


Meanwhile, the Ducks are feeling great about their defensive depth


Enough has already been written on the Blackhawks’ defense. And with Kyle Cumiskey looking like he could step in for David Rundblad for tomorrow’s Game 2 of the Western Conference Final, more will be written still.

But this post is about Anaheim’s defense. Unlike Chicago’s, it’s looking pretty darn deep.

It’s so deep, in fact, that veteran James Wisniewski can’t get into the lineup.

“We thought we got all these guys and [Simon Despres] would be the seventh D,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said today. “Now it would be pretty hard arguably to take him out. [GM Bob Murray] did a tremendous job acquiring him.

“I think [assistant coach Trent Yawney has] done a tremendous job as far as handling all six defensemen. I think with their minutes, with their responsibilities, now there’s not a fear of putting any one of them into any situation that comes to the front.”

Deep and talented as the Ducks defense may be, it does not have a Norris Trophy candidate, like Chicago does with Duncan Keith. That’s notable if only because most (not all, but the large majority of) Stanley Cup champions do have that kind of defenseman. Los Angeles had Drew Doughty, Boston had Zdeno Chara, Detroit had Nicklas Lidstrom, etc.

To be sure, the Ducks may one day soon have a Norris Trophy candidate. Hampus Lindholm and Cam Fowler each have the potential. But both are still very young, at 21 and 23 years old, respectively.

Hence, the importance of veteran Francois Beauchemin.

“He’s the voice,” Boudreau said of the 34-year-old. “Everybody else is so young. [He] is the voice back there. You can hear him talking all the time.

“The other one that’s helping, but not playing, is Wiz. He’s helping the defensemen out there. Obviously he wants to play, but he’s been so professional about all of this. He’ll take [Sami Vatanen] aside, he’ll take the young guys aside and say, ‘This is what Chicago is doing, this is this, this is that.’ Those two older guys are great teachers and the guys look up to them an awful lot.”

Related: Coach Q denies Chicago’s depth issues, but Kesler suggests otherwise

Coach Q denies Chicago’s depth issues, but Kesler suggests otherwise

Ryan Kesler

The numbers argue that the Chicago Blackhawks leaned heavily on their top defensemen in a 4-1 Game 1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Ryan Kesler indicates that the Ducks plan on taking advantage of that fact.

When asked about the situation – David Rundblad had a rough afternoon, Kimmo Timonen received less than six minutes of ice time – Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville was his typically terse self.

While that bottom pairing was scarce, Duncan Keith received 28:25 minutes of ice time and Brent Seabrook registered almost 27 minutes. That’s not much of a departure for Keith (he actually logged more ice time in each of the last three games against Minnesota), it was a two-minute boost for Seabrook.

However valid the questions may be, it’s clear that the Ducks hope to swing this situation – and their perceived deeper pool of options on D – to their advantage, as Kesler told the Chicago Sun-Times Mark Lazerus:

“When you get guys playing a ton of minutes, it’s gonna wear them down,” Kesler said. “We’ve got to invest in them physically.”

That’s an interesting bit of phrasing, huh?

The good news for Chicago is that they avoided much wear-and-tear in the second round thanks to a sweep of the Minnesota Wild. They’re also used to the rigors of the postseason, although injuries do provide questions about their defense beyond a strong top four.

It’s certainly a situation to watch, especially if the Blackhawks make this another battle, as they seem to expect.

Size matchup will be one to watch when Blackhawks meet Ducks

Anaheim Ducks v Chicago Blackhawks

According to the NHL’s media website, the Chicago Blackhawks have an average weight of 197.3 pounds. Kris Versteeg is the lightest at 176 pounds, which is only slightly lighter than Patrick Kane (177), Teuvo Teravainen (178), and Andrew Shaw (179). There are a few heavy skaters, like Bryan Bickell (223) and Brent Seabrook (220), but for the most part, this is not a gigantic team we’re talking about.

And then there’s the Anaheim Ducks, the Blackhawks’ next opponent, who boast an average weight of 207.5 pounds. Sure, Sami Vatanen, at just 180 pounds, isn’t very heavy, but Patrick Maroon (231), Ryan Getzlaf (218), and Corey Perry (213) definitely are. Did we mention those three play on the same line?

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman is fully cognizant of the size disparity between the two teams. He’s not too worried about it, though.

“I think size and talent is great. But size alone is not the answer,” Bowman told the Sun-Times. “We’ve seen that more than ever with the modern game here in the last few years. It’s never been more friendly for a smaller player to play because it’s really a skill game now. If you have size in addition to that, that’s great. We like big players, too. We don’t have an aversion to that at all. Anaheim does it really well with the players they have. But there’s not one way to win.”

That being said, the size matchup will certainly be one to watch when the ‘Hawks and Ducks kick things off in the Western Conference finals. The undersized Flames had all sorts of trouble handling the big Ducks in their second-round series.

Here’s but one example of what size and strength can do:

The key for the Blackhawks will be to avoid getting cornered like that. The solution? Quick feet. Quick decisions. Quick passes. Or, as Mike Babcock likes to say, “Play fast.”

Fortunately for the Blackhawks, they’re fully capable of doing just that — and that starts with their star defenseman, Duncan Keith.

Save for the goalies, no player is likely to get more ice time in this series than the “freak” Keith, and no player’s performance may be more pivotal. Expect the Ducks to do everything they can to get to him. 

Just don’t expect them to find it easy.

Kings forward Dustin Brown, one of the NHL’s best at getting in on the forecheck, knows what it’s like to try and hunt down Keith.

“For me, it’s just his skating ability,” said Brown. “He has the ability to get himself out of trouble. He’s a real big part of that team from the back end. He’s one of those guys that plays against top guys but also has the offensive side of the game. He’s the best offensive guy on the back end and he really helps those forwards with their transition game because of his heads-up play and he moves the puck really quick.”

More minutes? Timonen will ‘take whatever I get’ after Rozsival injury

Chicago Blackhawks v Philadelphia Flyers

Though he’s largely been a non-factor for Chicago this postseason — averaging just 9:25 TOI per night — Kimmo Timonen says he’s more than ready for an increased workload now that Michal Rozsival is done for the playoffs with a fractured ankle.

“If I get more, I get more. If I don’t, I don’t,” Timonen said, per the Sun-Times. “That’s my role and I’m happy to do it. If it’s seven, eight, 12 minutes — that’s more than I was supposed to play this year anyway.

“I’ll take whatever I get.”

Expect defense to be a major story in the Western Conference Final — specifically, the contrasts between Anaheim and Chicago. The Ducks are feeling great about the health and depth; they’re young, they’re fresh, Hampus Lindholm is emerging as a potential star and, should injury hit, the club is more than capable of dealing — trade deadline pickups James Wisniewski and Korbinian Holzer are sitting as healthy scratches, as are veteran Mark Fistric and youngster Josh Manson.

It’s a far different story in Chicago.

Head coach Joel Quenneville has relied heavily on his top four of Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Rozsival was often scrutinized by fans and media, but played an integral role as the No. 5 guy and will now likely be replaced by David Rundblad. The 24-year-old Swede did play a fair bit during the regular season but, as Brough pointed out, received protected minutes and started just 20.6 percent of his shifts in the defensive zone.

Which brings the conversation back to Timonen.

There’s an obvious opportunity here for him to see more ice, given almost all of Rozsival’s minutes were at even strength. The 40-year-old insists he’s feeling great and fit enough to be a factor in the Anaheim series, which might be a necessity given how effectively the Ducks rolled their forwards through the first two playoff rounds.

“I’m probably in the past shape I’ve been in years. I feel great,” Timonen said. “Once I get out there I do my job as well as I can. But it hasn’t been easy. It’s a role I’ve never been through before. It takes a little time to get used to it. It’s a lot of mental thinking.

“Every player wants to play more. When you play more you usually play better.”

Related: Rozsival injury puts Chicago blue line that much more under the microscope