Keith registered an assist and received 26:38 of ice time during Friday's game against Nashville.
Keith is clearly over the knee injury that held him out of the World Cup of Hockey and parts of training camp. He's now logged 25:34 and 26:38 of ice in the first two games of the season, respectively. It also didn't take long to dispel the suggestion that head coach Joel Quenneville was going to lessen Keith's workload. The veteran defenseman projects to continue being a strong fantasy option with his workhorse role remaining in tact.
Keith also told reporters that he will draw into his first preseason game of the year Tuesday evening in a matchup with the Red Wings. The two-time Norris Trophy winner has been bothered by his surgically repaired right knee while preparing for the upcoming season, a lingering ailment that ultimately forced him to bow out of the World Cup of Hockey, leaving his status for the Blackhawks' season opener in doubt. It appears those doubts are close to being laid to rest. If the 33-year-old blueliner manages to complete Tuesday's contest without suffering any sort of setback, the Hawks' training staff will likely feel far more comfortable granting Keith medical clearance ahead of Chicago's first game of the regular season. Keith's knee issue may be something he's forced to deal with for the rest of his career, but the Blackhawks are already making changes to accommodate that unfortunate prospect, including putting plans in place to more carefully manage his minutes during the upcoming campaign. Keith may no longer be capable of averaging over 25 minutes of ice time per game, but will still undoubtedly be one of the most efficient defenseman in the league while averaging at least 22 minutes of ice time per game in 2016-17.
Keith will have his minutes managed carefully once he returns from his knee injury, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Keith was the 12th-most utilized defenseman last season, averaging 30.1 shifts and 25:16 of ice time per contest, but the Blackhawks have wisely decided to hold him out of the first four preseason games and put his playing time under a microscope in effort to avoid wear and tear on his knee before the regular season even begins. Keith was quite efficient last season, finding twine nine times to go along with 34 helpers in just 67 games.
Despite the knee injury, Keith should return to his 2015-16 form that saw him rack up nine goals and 34 assists, including 18 points with the man advantage. Even if it takes the blueliner a few games to shake off the rust, fantasy owners would be hard pressed to find a more consistent scorer among defensemen.
Keith pulled out of playing for Team Canada in the World Cup of Hockey to nurse his surgically repaired knee. It's still unknown how much Keith will participate in the preseason, but the veteran defenseman has been skating for about a month. The