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Keith a big piece of Blackhawks' puzzle

06/07/2010 11:56 AM

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--  The Blackhawks call Duncan Keith "Jigsaw." Once Brian Campbell revealed why Sunday morning, the nickname took on a whole new meaning.
"He's a big fan of 'Saw' movies," Campbell said. "He loves serial killers, histories of serial killers."
Keith is a serial killer in his own right. His prey is players wearing the other uniform and his weapons are his skates and his stick. By using them, Keith is helping the Chicago Blackhawks slowly stick the dagger in the Philadelphia Flyers' Stanley Cup dreams.
Chicago grabbed a 3-2 lead in the Final with its 7-4 win Sunday night. Keith played a team-high 27:11 and chipped in with an assist on Dustin Byfuglien's game-winning goal with 4:15 to play in the second period. He was quarterbacking the power play at the time.
Game 6 is Wednesday at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).
"'Duncs,' with his skills, he makes things happen and we all need to follow him," Campbell said after calling Keith "weird" for his affinity for serial killers. "He gets in on plays. He takes care of himself and is prepared at all times. With his ability, especially his skating ability, he can cheat on plays and nothing really costs him."
Keith said he embraces his nickname, which is derived from the character in the Saw movies known as Jigsaw Killer, who never actually kills anyone.
"I read a lot of books on serial killers," he told Blackhawks TV earlier in the Final. "It's not to scare anyone."
Keith still strikes fear into the opposition.
He again controlled the Blackhawks' pace from the back end Sunday because he was fast, elusive and physical. The Hawks followed suit.
Due to his minus-2 rating, Keith called his performance "just average," but anybody watching knows he's been anything but a Grade C performer this spring and especially this series.
Keith has 1 goal and 5 assists in five games against the Flyers. He has led the Blackhawks in ice time in every game, skating at least 27 minutes a night. He played the equivalent of a full game plus 61 seconds in Games 3 and 4, and he never looked tired.
"He can control a good portion of a hockey game when he's on the ice," Hawks center John Madden said. "He's fun to watch and he's a really, really competitive kid that loves playing hockey. When you get him going like he was (Sunday), he's very hard to knock off his game."
Asked by if it's overstating Keith's impact to say the Hawks take their cues from his speed, Madden said he couldn't say yes or no even though by now it's clear as glass that when Keith is skating fast and joining the rush the Hawks are so much more dangerous than when he isn't.
"When you have a guy in the back end that can move up and be like that fourth forward all the time or leading the rush, it allows for other guys to do certain things," Madden said. "He just helps out in so many ways."
Even so, the Blackhawks' No. 1 defenseman, a Norris Trophy finalist, is playing second-fiddle in this Stanley Cup Final to Philadelphia's Chris Pronger, his polar opposite in so many ways.
Pronger talks loud, interacts with the media and delivers lines like, "I'm day-to-day with hurt feelings." Keith is quiet, monotone and hates talking about himself. It's not often you see him smile, let alone make a gaggle of reporters bust out in laughter.
But his and Pronger's impacts are one in the same and their ice time is almost identical. Keith has played 143 minutes and 28 seconds in the Final compared to Pronger's 148:48.
"I wish I could tell you that I noticed a change (in Keith's game Sunday), but that's a complement to him that I didn't," forward Patrick Sharp said. "When we're moving our feet and skating like we did, things can happen."
Keith's killer instincts are a big reason why.