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Round 2
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Stanley Cup Final

Marchand plans to see more of Keith throughout Final

Saturday, 06.15.2013 / 12:26 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer / Stanley Cup Final series blog

CHICAGO -- One of the more intriguing battles that began to take shape during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday was the one pitting Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith against Brad Marchand, the Boston Bruins agitator.

It was a tad surprising to see Keith and his partner, Brent Seabrook, logging big minutes against Marchand's line with center Patrice Bergeron and Jaromir Jagr -- only because top-line Bruins center David Krejci leads all scorers in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 23 points in 17 games.

Despite that, Marchand didn't see it that way.

"Keith and Seabrook pretty much played the whole game," Marchand said. "They were matched against everybody."

Marchand, who is fourth on the team in scoring with 13 points, isn't exaggerating either. Keith actually led all players in ice time (48:40) for Game 1, and Seabrook logged 39:12.

There were several opportunities for the two players to become acquainted, and they took full advantage throughout the course of the game. In fact, Marchand and Keith were in a rather heated verbal exchange at one point before Marchand shoved the veteran defenseman to the ice during a stoppage of play. So long as they are out on the ice together, Game 1 was probably only the tip of the iceberg.

"We were playing the game and he's obviously a great player and he's all over the place out there," Marchand said. "We're matched up against each other a lot, so I mean, it's just hockey and lots of things are happening out there."

Keith was asked he expects to see Marchand early and often again Saturday for Game 2 of this best-of-7 series at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"I didn't really think about [our encounters] to be honest," Keith said. "We're out there battling. That's just part of it."

Really, that's just the response Chicago coach Joel Quenneville expects to here of his minute-munching thoroughbred along the blue line. Keith has averaged 27:03 of ice time during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Dunc's conditioning level is at a different level than most players," Quenneville said. "He relishes ice time, loves to play more. I think the more you play defense, it's easier to play better. He's one of those guys, you can't overtax him."

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It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery