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Blackhawks' Keith cleared, could play this weekend

by Brian Hedger /

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks could get defenseman Duncan Keith back in the lineup as soon as this weekend, coach Joel Quenneville said Tuesday.

Keith, who has been cleared for contact in practice, skated on his own Tuesday at United Center and will be a full participant in practice Wednesday.

"He's skating well, moving well, feels good," Quenneville said. "We'll see how he is [Wednesday], with some guys on the ice. He feels good so we'll see what happens at the end of the week."

After playing the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, the Blackhawks play Saturday at the St. Louis Blues and Sunday at home against the Calgary Flames. Keith is eligible to be activated off long-term injured reserve Saturday.

"He's soon, he's close," Quenneville said. "[Wednesday], with guys pushing on him, we'll get a better indication of how soon."

Keith, who has two assists and a minus-2 rating in six games, had surgery Oct. 20 to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. At the time he was expected to miss 4-6 weeks. He started skating on his own last week and then participated in Chicago's morning skate Nov. 8, two days shy of three weeks from the day of surgery.

"I don't know if we're ahead of schedule [or] behind schedule," Keith said. "We're just taking it one day at a time and doing what the trainers tell me to do. It feels good. Obviously skating by yourself it's tough to gauge when nobody else is out there. You're not really battling or anything like that. But I feel fine."

Asked if he fears any limitations upon returning to play, Keith laughed.

"It's just a meniscus," he said. "I didn't get my leg amputated here. It's just a matter of getting my skating legs back and getting going again. That's it."

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