Ironman loves working up a sweat

Spending a lot of time on the ice isn't anything new to Duncan Keith.

The veteran Blackhawks defenseman is third in the NHL in ice time this season, averaging 27 minutes 44 seconds per game.

"It's something I've done ever since I was a little kid," Keith said. "I've always played a lot, nothing has changed."

Keith, who made his first All-Star appearance last season, was back logging major minutes Tuesday night here against the Coyotes. The game kicked off a six-game trip for the Hawks, who entered on a three-game winless skid.

The 25-year-old played a season-high 32 minutes Oct. 18 against the St. Louis Blues and is among the best-conditioned of the Hawks. However, the Winnipeg native said that's not necessarily the key to playing so many minutes.

"I think conditioning gets overblown a little bit," Keith said. "There are a lot of guys in the league who play a lot of minutes. I work out and I train hard in the summer and try to keep strong.

"I just like to play. I like to be on the ice. I feel better the more I play and more confident and more into the game. I make better plays when I play more."

Keith played in his 262nd game in a Hawks uniform Tuesday night and is the team's active leader. He has missed one game in his four-year NHL career after the Hawks drafted him in the second round (54th overall) of the 2002 draft.

"There are times in the season, because it is such a long year, that mentally it can wear on you," said Keith, who had two goals and five assists entering Tuesday night. "That's all part of being consistent and being mentally strong. When you aren't there physically, you can always be there mentally. It's just how hard you work to try to maintain that mental toughness."

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville is a former NHL defenseman with more than 800 games played.

"He's quick, he's agile and he works out hard," Quenneville said of Keith. "He's very diligent in his conditioning. Whether it's positioning or the way he plays the game, certain guys can handle quantity like that.

"Defensemen will increase their effectiveness with more ice time. He has been fine playing those kind of numbers. It's a situation where we're getting quality match-up minutes and it's very important for us. He seems to be handling it well."

Birthday boy: Hawks winger Patrick Kane turns 20 Wednesday but didn't have any big plans as the team was in Dallas for Thursday night's game against the Stars.

"I'll probably just get ready for the game -- nothing too special," said Kane, who picked up his 14th assist on Kris Versteeg's first-period goal against the Coyotes to put the Hawks ahead 1-0. "Twenty is not really a great birthday. You're not a teenager anymore and you can't even get into the bars."

One-timers: Patrick Sharp, who leads the Hawks in goals, broke a four-game pointless streak with his 10th in the first to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead. ... Veterans Brent Sopel and Craig Adams were scratches for the Hawks. ... Defenseman Matt Walker was in the lineup for the first time in three games. ... Coyotes center Shane Doan played his 900th NHL game, all with the same organization. ... Former Coyotes goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin got the start for the Hawks. He entered with a 2.38 goals-against average and yielded a power-play goal to Zbynek Michalek early in the second.


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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: November 19, 2008