Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook on the rise
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org March 20, 2012 11:12PM
Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford makes a save against the Blue Jackets’ Derek Dorsett in the second period Tuesday. | Jay LaPrete~AP
The facts: 7, CSN, 720-AM.
Updated: April 22, 2012 10:19AM
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The scoresheet indicates that the Blackhawks’ top defensive pairing of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook is on an impressive run. Seabrook’s numbers, in particular, stand out.
But when asked about that success, coach Joel Quenneville didn’t heap praise on them but wanted much more with the postseason quickly approaching.
The acquisition of veteran defenseman Johnny Oduya has allowed Quenneville to reunite Seabrook and Keith and have three pairs “you’re comfortable [with],” he said.
It took a few games, but the chemistry Seabrook and Keith always have had is starting to blossom again.
Seabrook scored his seventh goal in the Hawks’ 5-1 win Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets and is a plus-8 in his last three games. He also has a five-game point streak. Keith had four assists against the Blue Jackets.
“We had that stretch there when [Keith and Seabrook] were apart, and I think they’ve had some ups and downs all year long,” Quenneville said. “[Seabrook’s] game this year has been, I would say, kind of consistent, but we rely on and expect a lot from that pair or [Seabrook] himself.
“Our team game is way better and way more effective when our defense is at their best, especially that pair. The difference in our team results are probably measured [by] when they’re on their game, we generally do all right as a team.”
Keith and Seabrook ran the points for the Hawks’ first power-play unit, which scored twice in the third period.
“Losing games and being on the [nine-game] streak that we were, it sort of intensifies everything and makes you aware of where we are in the standings,” Seabrook said. “Every game is a playoff game, and those are the kind of games I like to play in.”
Michael Frolik said he’s doing his best to look forward and not at the rough season he has had after coming in with big expectations with a three-year deal.
Frolik played for the second consecutive game after being scratched eight games in a row. Quenneville wants the two-time 21-goal scorer to be more active offensively and stronger with the puck.
“They give you this contract, and for sure you want to be better than I am now,” Frolik said. “For sure, I know they expect that from me. I know I can be better, too. ... The season wasn’t really good. But you always try to finish strong.”
The Hawks assigned center Mark McNeill, the 18th overall pick in 2011, to the Rockford IceHogs. McNeill had 31 goals and 40 assists in 67 games for the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League this season.
◆ Defenseman Steve Montador (concussion) skated in Chicago but remains on injured reserve. There is no timetable for his return.
◆ The Vancouver Canucks spent the last two nights in Chicago, awaiting the Hawks for the game Wednesday. Roberto Luongo will start in goal for the Canucks.