Hawks' Keith suspended for tonight's game
Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith will miss Thursday's Game 4 against the Kings after being suspended one game by the NHL for his slash to the face of Los Angeles forward Jeff Carter in Game 3.
LOS ANGELES -- The Blackhawks are going to have to find a way to beat the Kings in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals on Thursday without Duncan Keith.
The defenseman drew a one-game suspension from the NHL on Wednesday for his one-hand slash to the face of Kings forward Jeff Carter in Game 3 on Tuesday.
In suspending Keith, the league pointed out how he was a repeat offender and that Carter was hurt on the play, suffering a 20-stitch cut and losing several teeth.
Keith drew a five-game suspension last season for elbowing Vancouver's Daniel Sedin in the head.
Keith was retaliating against Carter for what happened behind the play when the two became entangled at the net. Carter gave Keith a whack in the back with his stick when the two separated, then as they were skating away Keith bent down to pick up his glove and Carter chopped the defenseman's unprotected hand.
"This is more serious than a case of a player simply having to be responsible for his stick," said Brendan Shanahan, NHL chief of discipline. "It is not an accidental high stick nor is it a defensive high stick to an opponent. This is a retaliatory high stick to an opponent that causes an injury.
"Although Keith asserts that he did not intend to hit Carter in the face, or hit him with such force, he does admit to intentionally swinging his stick at Carter as Carter was skating away. It should also be noted that if Carter did indeed chop down on Keith's hand, that still does not justify the extent of Keith's actions."
Keith maintained Wednesday that it was an accident.
"It's out of my control now," said Keith, who spoke with reporters before the verdict came down. "I said my peace and it's up to them. It's over with now. I said the same thing last night; it was an accident."
Sheldon Brookbank likely will replace Keith in the lineup.
"Anything to the head in the NHL these days is pretty scary," Patrick Kane said. "I thought it was an accident as you can obviously tell from his reaction after the play happened. If Carter hits his hand it could be going the other way right now."
Niklas Hjalmarsson said all the other defensemen are going to have to pick up the slack.
"That's been our strength pretty much all year, our depth on our blue line," he said. "I'm sure Brookbank is going to come in and play good and all the other d-men will have to step up a little more. I think we have a good enough defense core to win."
Carter said he was feeling a little sore Wednesday.
"I had a bunch of cuts inside, one outside that you could see," Carter said. "Got a bunch of stitches."
Carter was asked to recreate what happened.
"We were battling in front of the net, up the ice," he said. "You know, I think I took a swing at his glove there; he was trying to pick it up. I was in front of him, next thing I knew I was getting a stick to the face.
"It's a huge loss for their team. He's a big part of their team."
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said Keith means a lot to the club.
"Duncs is important in all areas," Quenneville said. "We talk about special teams, about big minutes, how we defend, how we get activated on the back end. His leadership is and his compete level is everything you want in a defenseman."
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