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Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook back to powering offense

Duncan Keith (2) Brent Seabrook each scored their first goal seasFriday. | Dilip Vishwanat~Getty Images

Duncan Keith (2) and Brent Seabrook each scored their first goal of the season Friday. | Dilip Vishwanat~Getty Images

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Tonight

OILERS
AT BLACKHAWKS
The facts: 6, Ch. 9, 720-AM.

Updated: December 14, 2011 8:38AM



It’s no surprise the Blackhawks worked their way out of a rut when defenseman Duncan Keith returned from a finger injury and was reunited with longtime blue-line partner Brent Seabrook.

Regardless of how much the blue line has changed the last few seasons, when coach Joel Quenneville puts Keith and Seabrook ­together, stability and productivity usually follow.

“Those guys getting their first goals [Friday against the Calgary Flames] will help going forward,” Quenneville said. “It was a nice shot by Seabs and Duncs with the quick shot.

“I think offensively as a group of defensemen, we’re looking for more. But I still think primarily let’s think about checking and playing our own end. The offense comes by doing your job.”

And the offense has come the last two games, albeit against weak teams in the Columbus Blue Jackets and Flames. But it was only a matter of time for Keith and Seabrook. Nick Leddy wasn’t going to carry the bulk of the offense on the blue line by himself, despite an impressive start with two goals and 10 points in 17 games.

“It’s part of our game that needs to be there,” Keith said after registering his 250th career point in his 500th career game Friday. “It’s important that we stay on that and help contribute. It’s not just to get points, but the main thing is just keeping plays alive and having good gaps and supporting our forwards.”

A lot was made about the Hawks’ defense being deeper this season with Steve Montador, Sami Lepisto and Sean O’Donnell coming aboard and Brian Campbell being traded to the Florida Panthers. But Campbell’s talents — in particular, his breakout abilities — have been missed as Quenneville continues to shuffle his bottom pairing.

Recently, Seabrook, Keith and Leddy have gotten more involved in rushes, which was best exemplified by the eight combined points the defense had against the Blue Jackets.

Keith has a goal, eight points and a plus-7 rating. Seabrook, who set a career high last season with 48 points, is starting to get going with three points and a plus-4 rating in the last two games.

“We can always compete harder and compete better, and maybe even a little smarter,” said Seabrook, who has seven points in 17 games. “That’s a big thing. Being in the right spots, being in there at the right times, doing the right things with the puck. It’s not just about skating around as fast as you can with your head cut off. You’ve got to be doing the right things out there.”

“It’s good to get those guys chipping in and get their first ones of the year,” Jonathan Toews said. “Duncs and Seabs the last two nights have played really well together. I think it’s just a start for the offense for those two guys.”



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