Blackhawks' Keith takes minute-munching to extreme

Friday, 06.14.2013 / 5:05 PM | Corey Masisak  - Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith spent more time on the ice Wednesday than any player has in a game during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and he could tell Thursday morning.

Keith logged 48:40 of ice time in Game 1 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, a 4-3 overtime victory against the Boston Bruins. He eclipsed Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg by four seconds for the most playing time in the game, and it was the most since Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal each saw more 49 minutes in a three-overtime victory for the New York Rangers against the Washington Capitals in the first round of the 2012 playoffs.

"Personally, I didn't feel that great at the start of the game," Keith said Friday at United Center. "I felt better as the game went on. I don't know if that is because we had the three days off between rounds. We hadn't had three days off in that entire [Western Conference Final]. I felt better at the end of the game, but I was definitely feeling it yesterday.

"Yeah, I definitely noticed it. I think anybody who didn't notice it would be lying, but when you play almost two games, you notice it."

Both teams took Thursday off but were back on the ice for short practices Friday in preparation for Game 2 on Saturday at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS). Whichever players do the best job of recovering from a game that lasted more than 112 minutes could have a distinct advantage as Game 2 wears on.

"Obviously it was a long game," Keith said. "I feel comfortable. I take good care of myself. We have good trainers and everybody that steers us in the right direction. I'll be ready to go. ... It is a lot of the same things. Obviously it is a lot of minutes, but it is a lot of the same things that I would normally do. It is just making sure I am really disciplined that I do after a game, whether it is stretching or hydrating. There's only so much you can do, from drinking lots of water to stretching and eating properly."

What makes Keith's long night in Game 1 even more remarkable is it was the second consecutive contest in which he logged more than 40 minutes of ice time. Chicago eliminated the Los Angeles Kings to advance to the Cup Final in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final but needed two overtimes to do it.

Keith played 40:12 in the victory, putting him at nearly 89 minutes of ice time in his past two contests.

"It's almost expected out of him," Chicago 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."

Keith's back-to-back, or hockey's version of a "40-40," is unique. According to the website, the only player since the 1987-88 season who had back-to-back 40-minute games in a shorter period of time was Dallas Stars defenseman Richard Matvichuk, who logged more than 40 minutes in Games 5 and 6 of the 2000 Stanley Cup Final against the New Jersey Devils.

"That's pretty neat, but I don't want to have to play those minutes if we don't have to. Hopefully we can get it sorted away earlier," Keith said. "I don't really think about it too much, to be honest with you. I'm just out there playing. I've played a lot of minutes my whole life. Even as a kid growing up, so I want to be out on the ice. I think everybody likes to be on the ice a lot. Forty-plus minutes is a lot, but I think obviously we don't want to play those types of minutes every game, but you have to take it as it comes."

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