Kane and Keith providing plenty of scoring for Hawks

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
 
 
Published12/7/2009 4:51 PM

After 28 games, Patrick Kane leads the Blackhawks in scoring with 27 points.

No surprise there.

 

The Hawks' second leading scorer is defenseman Duncan Keith with 23 points.

On a team that also features Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Kris Versteeg, Keith's lofty offensive numbers could be considered a definite surprise.

While the Hawks look to Kane to put points on the scoreboard, that's not how Keith's value to the team is measured.

Keith said he hasn't made any kind of push to be more of a factor offensively even though his 23 points puts him more than halfway to shattering his career high of 44 established last season.

"I go in with the same mindset every year; focus on trying to play good defense and shutting down the other team's top line," Keith said Monday. "I think more than anything it's getting an opportunity to be on the power play. It's something I never really had before, and now I'm having that chance.

"It's nice to be out there with so many skilled guys. I mean, you're going to move the puck around and get points that way."

Keith ranked fourth in the NHL in scoring among defensemen coming out of the weekend behind only Washington's Mike Green (30 points), Toronto's Tomas Kaberle (27) and San Jose's Dan Boyle (25).

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With his 27 points in 28 games, Kane is nearly averaging a point a game, which is one way to measure a true elite player.

There were only 19 point-a-game guys in the NHL last season and there were just 23 averaging that before Monday's schedule of games.

Kane worked hard in the summer to get physically bigger and stronger and the results are showing.

Kane is faster on the ice and able to fight through more checks, such as the one he battled through against Evgeni Malkin along the boards at Pittsburgh on Saturday to help set Marian Hossa's first period goal.

"If you looked at the goal we scored the other day in a 4-on-4 situation, he raced up the wall and all of a sudden got a little separation and got some time to spin off the check of Malkin, a pretty good player, and fed it over to Soupy (Brian Campbell)," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

"You're seeing him be more a threat off the rush. It gives him a little bit more space and he's more dangerous off the rush in his 1-on-1 situations. With the way he can see on the ice and make plays, it complements that speed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Obviously, we expect young guys to get stronger and we like the progress with his quickness as well," Quenneville said. "He's really progressed this year from last year. He's a dangerous guy and gives the opposition a lot to be concerned with."

Kane says he is playing at 178 pounds, up about 13 pounds from last spring in the playoffs.

"The biggest thing for me now is to just keep that up," Kane said of his weight. "I just feel a lot faster this year and I'm giving myself more time and space to make plays. If I can keep doing that and keep up my speed, do different things to keep that up throughout the year, it should help me out a lot."

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