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At the Rink: Blackhawks at Blues

by Louie Korac / NHL.com

ST. LOUIS -- Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith was all smiles after the morning skate Saturday and with good reason.

Keith will return to the lineup against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; WGN, FS-MW) after missing the past 10 games with a right knee injury. The Blackhawks were 5-4-1 with Keith out of the lineup.

Keith, who had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee Oct. 20, was originally scheduled to miss 4-6 weeks. With the Blackhawks (8-7-1) playing back-to-back games against the Blues and Sunday at home against the Calgary Flames, there appear to be no restrictions.

"I'm excited to get back, get back in the swing of things and trying to help out," Keith said after the morning skate Saturday. "It's a tough building here and a great team. We've got our work cut out for us. I just want to get in there and help the team.

"I'm just focused on today and having a good start like the rest of the guys. Trying to get my legs going and I feel good. ... I just feel like I'm going to go play and focus on the things I normally focus on."

Playing against a strong Central Division opponent like the Blues (11-4-1) was not something that even crossed the mind of coach Joel Quenneville.

"It's either today or tomorrow; let's go," Quenneville said. "... I think you want to play the right way. You want to make sure you don't change too much in your approach. I think you want to get past that point where you're thinking of it and you're just playing the game and your instincts take over. There's probably a little hurdle that you've got to overcome mentally, but as quickly as you can get yourself in that physical part of the game, I think you cross another barrier.

"He's been really looking forward to this, being in skates and he's got a lot of jump in his stride right now and he's happy to be back playing. He missed the game."

The Blackhawks, who lost 6-5 in overtime to the Blues on Oct. 4 after losing a 5-2 first-period lead, will also get defenseman Michal Rozsival back in the lineup.

Rozsival has missed the entire season so far after off-season surgery to repair a broken left ankle sustained in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season against the Minnesota Wild.

"He gives us some experience back there; we'll see how he does and handles ice time," Quenneville said. "They'll dictate a lot about both of those guys as far as how we're going to play them, how we're going to utilize them, their play, the way the game is, the score."

The Blackhawks were missing Keith, Rozsival and right wing Marian Hossa when the teams last met, and the Blues expect a different opponent.

"This is a different team," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "When you add those two defensemen into the lineup and you add Hossa, this is a completely different team. They look like they're full tonight, so this is going to be a great evaluation for where we're at.

"I think a guy like Duncan just completely changes the dynamic for both teams. He's as dangerous defensively as he is offensively. This will be a good challenge for us."

Here are the projected lineups:

BLACKHAWKS

Marko Dano - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Artemi Panarin - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane

Teuvo Teravainen - Marcus Kruger - Andrew Shaw

Brandon Mashinter - Tanner Kero - Ryan Garbutt

Duncan Keith - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Trevor van Riemsdyk - Brent Seabrook

Trevor Daley - Michal Rozsival

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Injured: None

Scratched: David Rundblad, Andrew Desjardins, Viktor Tikhonov

BLUES

Alexander Steen - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Scottie Upshall - David Backes - Robby Fabbri

Magnus Paajarvi - Scott Gomez - Troy Brouwer

Dmitrij Jaskin - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko

Joel Edmundson - Kevin Shattenkirk

Jake Allen

Brian Elliott

Injured: Paul Stastny (foot), Jaden Schwartz (ankle), Steve Ott (upper body) and Patrik Berglund (shoulder)

Scratched: Robert Bortuzzo

Status report: Quenneville said if all went according to plan, there's no reason Keith can't play in back-to-back games. ... Reaves returns to the lineup after being a healthy scratch the past two games. Reaves has been slowed by a right knee injury sustained during training camp. "Today's a good test and it's going to be fun," Reaves said.

Who's hot: Kane has an 11-game point streak (eight goals, 11 assists). Seabrook has 11 points the past 10 games (three goals, eight assists). Panarin has points in six of the past seven games (three goals, five assists). ... Brouwer and Gomez each have four-game point streaks. Tarasenko has two goals and two assists the past four games.

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