We’ve slacked enough since the Chicago Blackhawks Convention, so today, we are restarting our player evaluations for the 2013-14 Blackhawks. What did they do right? What did they do wrong? What can they improve upon for next season?
Today we head back to the blue line, where we examine the season of Norris Trophy winning defenseman Duncan Keith.
Keith had a really good season from an offensive standpoint, scoring six goals and dishing out 55 assists in 79 games, but even aside from his good numbers in those traditional metrics, he was dominant in terms of possession too. Among all NHL defensemen who played at least 20 games, Keith ranked seventh in the league in Corsi-On, with a 16.4 on the year, trailing only Michal Rozsival among his teammates in that category.
Keith was also a huge help to the Blackhawks when they were stumbling down the stretch, racking up three goals and 10 assists in March and April to help keep scoring up even with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane out of the lineup.
As is the case with several other players on the Blackhawks, our criticisms of Keith are relegated to being mere quibbles instead of full on hatchet jobs. His Quality of Competition % of 28.9% is good for sixth on the team, but Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya routinely drew more difficult assignments, and that did help Keith to bolster his offensive output.
The other thing we’d be remiss not to mention was the “Wakey Wakey Backes” incident that occurred during the playoffs. After Brent Seabrook drilled David Backes into the boards, it was likely Keith who taunted the visibly concussed Blues captain, and even though that type of trash talk isn’t uncommon in the NHL, it was still disconcerting to hear Keith say it.
Best Game of 2013-14:
Keith’s three assist game against the Columbus Blue Jackets late in the season was a work of art, but we’re instead going to go with his performance against the Blues in Game 6 of the teams’ first round series. In that game, Keith had a goal and three assists as the Hawks won their fourth straight game and eliminated the Blues from the postseason.
His block of a clearing attempt by Patrik Berglund in the first period led to Bryan Bickell’s goal in the first period, and he did the exact same thing in the third period on Toews’ go-ahead goal. Keith finished off his triumvirate of great plays when his slap shot was deflected into the new by Andrew Shaw to drive the final nail in the coffin.
Outlook for Next Season:
Keith isn’t getting any younger, but head coach Joel Quenneville will likely continue his recent trend of limiting the veteran’s ice time in order to keep him fresh throughout the season. His ice time did tick up a bit in 2013-14, but overall he’s still playing far fewer minutes than he did during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, and that’s a good thing for Chicago.
Keith will also be a key on the power play going into next season, with the team still looking for the right combination of players to succeed in that department. Keith is a solid point man when the Hawks are on the man-advantage, and if he can continue to be assertive with both his passing to the sides of the net and with his slap shots from the point to the goal mouth, the team will be in good shape.