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Brookbank ready to play for Keith

6/5/2013
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES -- Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Sheldon Brookbank said Wednesday he was prepared to step in for teammate Duncan Keith if needed in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.

Brookbank will likely be asked to do just that after Keith was given a one-game suspension Wednesday for high-sticking the Los Angeles Kings' Jeff Carter in Game 3 on Tuesday. The Blackhawks were still awaiting to hear the NHL's decision on Keith when Brookbank spoke after Wednesday's practice.

"I'm ready," Brookbank said. "I had another stretch in my career where I didn't play for a while, too. I feel like I'm ready to go. ... It's not easy staying with it and staying ready, but it's part of this job. It's one of the reasons they brought me here."

Brookbank averaged 12:45 of ice time in 26 regular-season games this season, but he has been a healthy scratch throughout the Blackhawks' playoff run.

The 32-year-old signed to a two-year deal with the Blackhawks in July after spending the previous 3 ½ seasons with the Anaheim Ducks. He and Michal Rozsival, who was also signed in the offseason, often took turns being a healthy scratch for the Blackhawks during the regular season, but Rozsival has remained in the lineup throughout the playoffs.

"You try to stay as sharp as you can," Brookbank said. "Sometimes the team isn't practicing as much as you go on. You got to keep your head in it and keep telling yourself at some point they could need you, so just make sure you're doing whatever it takes to be prepared."

"It's tough. That's part of being a professional. It might not be now. It might be a couple weeks from now. When that day comes, you want to be ready. If you're not ready, you'd be regretting you haven't been preparing. You just got to keep sticking with it and stay ready every day."