Duncan Keith is ready to get out of the uncharted waters he finds himself in. After missing three games in a row with a finger/hand injury, the standout defenseman said he's optimistic that he'll play Tuesday for the Blackhawks against the Blues in St. Louis.
Keith practiced for the first time with this teammates Monday after getting injured last week when he blocked a shot against the Nashville Predators.
"It felt good to be back out," Keith said. "I was excited to be back out there with the guys and getting in some drills again. I haven't had really much time like that where you're sitting out and not playing. It's nice to get out on the ice again."
As for his injury?
"Things are definitely better than I expected," Keith said. "It's gotten a lot better for sure. I'm optimistic about [playing against the Blues]. I know it was one practice, but I'm definitely optimistic."
It was clear that the Hawks missed Keith when he was out of the lineup, especially after allowing 10 goals in the past two games. Since breaking into the league in 2005, Keith has only missed nine games in his regular-season career.
"You get significant minutes," coach Joel Quenneville said of Keith. "He can play all situations, and his quickness and experience can help us in a lot of ways."
Keith played the first 11 games primarily with Nick Leddy, but after two rough games for the Hawks, Quenneville opted for change as he usually does.
Keith was paired with longtime defense partner Brent Seabrook at practice, while Leddy joined Niklas Hjalmarsson. Sami Lepisto and Sean O'Donnell made up the final pairing. Steve Montador looks like a scratch for Tuesday's game.
"We've given up a lot of goals," Quenneville said. "Just changing it up, whether it's a different partner or different quality of ice [time], is something that hopefully [where] we get it done."