CHICAGO – If Chicago’s Duncan Keith was winded after playing nearly 50 minutes in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals, well, he had time to catch his breath by Friday.
The defenceman shrugged off the heavy load he logged Wednesday night in the triple-overtime thriller that the Blackhawks won 4-3.
“It’s obviously a long game, but I feel comfortable,” Keith said. “I take good care of myself and we have good trainers and everyone who steers us in the right direction. I’ll be ready to go.”
Keith was on the ice for 48 minutes, 40 seconds.
Then again, he’s used to playing big minutes. He led the Blackhawks in time on ice per game during the regular season at 24:06 and is tops on the team in the playoffs at 27:03.
“It’s almost expected out of him,” captain Jonathan Toews said. “You know he’s going to log a lot of minutes and he’s going to be out there in every situation and he never fails. He always comes up with something. He’s always leading us in some category. People don’t appreciate it because it’s expected of him. But he’s as consistent as it gets. He’s a heck of a competitor, too, a great leader.”
Coach Joel Quenneville called Keith a “thoroughbred.”
“His conditioning level is at a different level than most players,” he said. “He’s able to absorb big minutes. This year is one year we conscientiously tried to cut down his minutes because the scheduling is so tight. As the season has progressed and in the playoffs, he’s picked up more minutes. He relishes ice time. He loves to play more. I think the more you play defence, it’s easier to play better.”
He was the only Blackhawk to play 40 minutes. Boston’s Dennis Seidenberg (48:36), Andrew Ference (45:19), Zdeno Chara (45:05) and Johnny Boychuk (41:37) all logged more than 40.
QUENNEVILLE’S PLACE: From George Halas to Mike Ditka and Phil Jackson, Chicago has had its share of larger-than-life coaches.
Now, Quenneville is three wins away from his second championship after leading the Blackhawks to one in 2010.
“It’s a special place, Chicago,” Quenneville said. “It’s a great sports city. It’s a great environment. People are very passionate about their teams, their sports as well. We love all that aspect of being a part of the Chicago sports scene, how fortunate we are to be a part of this place here in Chicago, be a part of the Blackhawk family, as well.”
Quenneville said he’s received congratulatory texts from former Bears offensive co-ordinator Mike Tice as well as Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.
“It’s nice knowing the guys,” Quenneville said. “Tom, we bump into each other here at the United Center. He was happy for us. Told him he was doing a good job shovelling the other day.”
The Bulls broke ground on a new practice facility adjacent to the United Center this week and are moving their headquarters from the suburbs to the city.
THUMBS UP: Boston’s Brad Marchand wasn’t complaining about having an extra day off in Chicago, particularly after that wild opener. Teams did not practice on Thursday, and he took advantage of the time off.
“Had a nice sleep-in, relaxed, went to a movie, went to bed early,” he said.
He saw “This Is The End,” a comedy starring James Franco, Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen. Marchand’s review?
“Thumb up,” he said.
PRACTICE UPDATE: The Blackhawks had Toews and Patrick Kane skating on separate lines Friday. Quenneville separated them for Game 1 after they played together toward the end of the Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Kings. The Blackhawks also had Brandon Saad skating on the top line with Toews and Marian Hossa, and Viktor Stalberg in white, a sign that Stalberg could be scratched again. Daniel Carcillo was sick and did not practice.