Playoff MVP: Keith did it all for the Blackhawks
He was must-watch TV, a half-hour reality show that seemingly never paused even during commercial timeouts.
He got pounded into the boards by bigger forwards. Blocked shots. Made plays that led to goals.
Got hit in the face by an errant stick -- as he did during the second period Monday night at the United Center.
And after averaging 31 minutes of ice time (more than half a hockey game) during the Stanley Cup playoffs, the indefatigable Duncan Keith held high the Conn Smythe trophy for the MVP of the NHL postseason.
He all but clinched it with his goal in Game 6 Monday night, flipping his own rebound over the glove of Lightning goalie Ben Bishop with 2:47 left in the second period to break a scoreless tie. Patrick Kane had set up Keith with one of his typical saucer passes from the boards.
Keith is the first defenseman to win the Conn Smythe since Anaheim's Scott Niedermayer in 2007.
After two grueling months of playoff hockey, Keith's smile following the Blackhawks' Cup-clinching, 2-0 win over Tampa Bay suggested he could play another month's worth of games. Well, at least one more, if a Game 7 had been needed.
"First off, hats off to Tampa Bay," said Keith, wearing a Stanley Cup champs hat on the UC ice after the game. "It was, by far, our hardest series. I'm not just saying that. It was incredible."
Consider the Conn Smythe the latest achievement -- along with a third Stanley Cup championship for the 6-foot-1, 192-pound, swift-skating defenseman, who turns 32 next month. His resume also includes a pair of Norris trophies (2010, 2014) for the league's top defenseman during the regular season.
Keith's 21 postseason points (18 assists) led all defensemen, but it was his tireless play and effectiveness in his own end that seemingly drew more praise. The Blackhawks allowed only 10 goals in six games, just two in the last three.
"It feels so good, you want to keep being a part of these things," Keith said after playing 30 minutes, 19 seconds. "I think that's what drives you as a player. You don't get these awards without being on great teams with great players."
What Keith did in helping the Blackhawks win their third Stanley Cup in six years surprised none of his teammates or coaches. He's led the Blackhawks in ice time in each of his 10 NHL seasons, averaging 25:33 during this past regular season.
"It was either him or Corey (for Conn Smythe)," defenseman Johnny Oduya said. "I think it could have gone either way. 'Duncs' has been tremendous the whole playoffs."
All 3 of Keith's postseason goals were game-winners.
"He's been unbelievable for a long time and what he did this playoffs was amazing," defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "Got a huge goal tonight to get us started. He's just an amazing player."