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Sunday, March 20, 2011
Seabrook-Keith duo helps defense step up

By Jesse Rogers



GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Improved defense keyed the Chicago Blackhawks' 2-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on Sunday.

The Coyotes had minimal scoring chances when the game mattered most. Hawks coach Joel Quenneville acknowledged Corey Crawford made “two of the biggest saves of the year” in the third period, but until then, it was about his defenders.

“We were sharp, we were aware,” Quenneville said. “Definitely better than last game and the effort was what we were looking for.”

Keith
Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith were reunited on the same line for the first time since early February and they excelled against the Coyotes.
That last game was a 5-0 pasting at the hands of the Dallas Stars on Thursday. Duncan Keith had a rough night in that contest, while Brent Seabrook had an even rougher one.

Sunday, Quenneville reunited their championship partnership for the first time since early February and they excelled.

“Felt like moving them around a little bit,” Quenneville said. “I felt like we were giving up a little too much quality lately. Good to get them back. They did a good job together as well.”

Keith scored a power-play goal and led the Hawks with four shots on net while blocking three in 30:01. Seabrook blocked four in 26:25 on the ice.

“I always enjoy playing with Seabs,” Keith said. “I feel comfortable. He’s a great player and very easy to play with.”

It’s the bread-and-butter combination which propelled the Hawks to great things a year ago. For one night, their partnership did it again.

Hurting Hawks: It was as if Jonathan Toews was asked to list his teammates using their nicknames. But he was just reeling off the injuries incurred throughout the year.

“The story of the year it seems like,” he said. “We’ve had Bolly [Dave Bolland], Soup [Brian Campbell], Sharpie [Patrick Sharp]. At times, Kaner [Patrick Kane] and Hoss [Marian Hossa] have been out. Pi [Fernando Pisani] , Rj [Ryan Johnson], it doesn’t matter. As frustrating as it is for those individuals they always battle back and bring a lot back to our lineup. I’m sure Sharp is frustrated. We’ll have to find a way without him.”

The Hawks should be thankful they haven’t had a season-ending injury to a star player -- unless Bolland and/or Sharp turn out to be -- but they’ve had many little ones which have disrupted chemistry.

Slappers

  • Quenneville rode his star players against Phoenix. Besides Keith and Seabrook’s busy nights, Hossa played 24:08, Kane, 20:56, and Toews 20:40. Both Niklas Hjalmarsson and Chris Campoli played over 20 minutes as well.

  • The quote: Campoli on he and Nick Leddy being on the ice with Toews, Kane, and Hossa on the game-winning power play.

    “We found ourselves out there with those guys. Pretty fortunate. They’re pretty good players.”

  • The Hawks are tied with the Los Angeles Kings and Nashville Predators with 86 points. They currently have the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference.