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updated: 3/26/2014 10:32 PM

Shooting-star Keith on his way to second Norris

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  • Duncan Keith, left, celebrates his second-period goal with teammates Patrick Sharp, middle, and Andrew Shaw during Tuesday's 4-2 victory over the Stars.

      Duncan Keith, left, celebrates his second-period goal with teammates Patrick Sharp, middle, and Andrew Shaw during Tuesday's 4-2 victory over the Stars.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 

If you've been watching Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith's shooting, you've noticed a couple of things: The puck is simply booming off the guy's stick, and his accuracy seems much, much better than in years past.

Just an illusion?

No, it is not.

"He's one-timing it and getting it through," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "It might seem as if it's a little heavier, but he's pounding it before the lane tightens up.

"Just getting it through sometimes you get a lot of action, sometimes they go in, but just keep thinking shots -- that's what we're looking for."

Thinking shots is just what Keith has been doing all season, and it has paid off big time on the score sheet.

Keith notched his sixth goal of the season -- and his third game-winner -- in Tuesday's win over Dallas.

And when he's not scoring goals, those shots from the point have led to 51 assists for Keith, who is quickly approaching the 55 he totaled in his 2010 Norris Trophy-winning season.

How does he explain the improved accuracy?

"Sometimes it's just being focused, and trying to be cognizant of the fact that I want to try to hit the net, and just get it on net," Keith said. "I try to work on my shot, and it's kind of been a work in progress, but I want to just keep getting better.

"I'm trying to be smarter, working on a few things with the assistant coaches. But it's tough with the forwards blocking shots. They have so much equipment on now that they don't feel shots now as much as they used to."

That means the still quick-as-a-cat defenseman has to react even quicker to find those rare, tiny openings between himself and the net.

"Part of it is having a good gap," Keith said. "When I'm up on the play creating offense, pucks come to me and I keep pucks in the zone better and am up on the play a lot better.

"So I not only defend better, but I help create offense."

All of which has led to renewed talk of the veteran, who ranks second among NHL defensemen with 57 points and is fourth overall in the league in assists, of perhaps winning his second Norris Trophy in five years.

His coach certainly would be on board with that.

"I think he's been at a better level this year as far as both sides of the puck," Quenneville said. "Obviously his production has been high-end.

"Defensively, him and (Brent Seabrook) together have been an excellent pair, so it's been a real good year for him."

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