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Keller Eager to Play vs. Kane for First Time

Coyotes rookie Clayton Keller says Chicago's Patrick Kane is a role model

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

GLENDALE -- Coyotes rookie Clayton Keller lists Chicago's Patrick Kane as the NHL player he most admired growing up. In fact, Keller, who like Kane stands 5-foot-10, has tried to model his game after Kane's.

The two will skate together on NHL ice for the first time on Saturday night when Arizona hosts Chicago at Gila River Arena. 

"It's cool," Keller said. "He was probably my favorite player growing up. (He's) a small guy, a lot of skill, hockey IQ. So it'll be cool to play against him. At the same time, we've got to focus on our goal and just playing the right way."

Keller will enter the game leading the Coyotes in goals (five) and points (seven). He's already notched two two-goal games this season, and appears headed to a special rookie campaign.

Kane, of course, is one of the NHL's elite offensive players who has notched 762 points in 748 games, including 10 points in eight games this season. 

"Just everything, there's no downside to his game," Keller said, after being asked what he admires most about Kane's game. "Another thing I like is the hockey IQ part. I think that's one of the strongest parts of his game. He's an unbelievable player."

Keller said he met Kane last season during his freshman year at Boston University. Kane and the Blackhawks practiced at BU while in Boston, and Kane congratulated Keller on Team USA's win at the IIHF World Junior Championship.

"That was pretty cool," Keller said. "He's a great player and someone that I definitely looked up to."

Keller is leading all NHL rookies with five goals and ranks second behind only New Jersey's Will Butcher for points (nine). Playing right wing on the top line with center Derek Stepan and left wing Max Domi has ignited his offensive production.

Keller likes Stepan's all-around game.

"He's the guy who's always in front," Keller said. "Me and Maxie are making plays, but he's an awesome player. He's always in the right position, and he's a great passer and he can definitely score."

As for Domi, Keller is a fan of his poise with the puck.

"Unbelievable passer," Keller said. "He's always looking for me, which I like. He's awesome to play with and seems like me and him really find each other a lot (with) just subtle plays and give-and-goes, little things like that that really go a long way." 

Keller now boasts seven NHL games on his resume from this season, and three from last season. However, he's still seeking his first win as an NHL player (0-8-2).

"As frustrating as it is, I think you've got to stay positive and continue to do what we've been doing and just come to the rink every day, work hard and the results will come," Keller said. "I think every team goes through a little bit of I guess you could call it a slump. Just need one win to get you out of that, and I think we're on the right path."

Video: Keller on Patrick Kane

 

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