ST. LOUIS — Duncan Keith, typically stone-faced and stoic before a game, was darn near giddy Saturday morning as his return from knee surgery loomed.
“I’m excited to get back and get in the swing of things and try to help out,” Keith said after the morning skate at Scottrade Center. “I just want to get in there and help the team.”
Keith missed 10 games and nearly four weeks after having surgery to repair a meniscal tear in his right knee, an injury sustained during the Stanley Cup Final. The Hawks went 5-4-1 in his absence, and Joel Quenneville had no hesitation putting the two-time Norris Trophy winner back in the lineup against the physical Blues, either.
He said it was important for Keith to play his game, and not worry about the knee.
“You want to get past that point where you’re thinking about it,” Quenneville said. “Just play and your instincts take over. There’s probably a little hurdle that you have to overcome mentally. But as quickly as you can, get yourself into the physical part of the game, [and] you’ve crossed another barrier.”
Patrick Kane said that Keith’s absence was felt in every aspect of the game, but particularly on offense.
“He’s very important,” Kane said. “I think one of the things you miss with him is that puck-possession game, where he likes to hang on to the puck, make plays, make direct passes. I think that’s one thing we’ve probably missed more than anything while he was out.”
Quenneville said as long as Keith feels OK after the game, he’ll play Sunday against Calgary, as well.
Michal Rozsival also returned to the lineup, making his season debut after breaking his ankle during the second round of the playoffs.
“He gives us some experience back there,” Quenneville said. “We’ll see how he does and handles ice time. That’ll dictate a lot about those guys, as far as how we’re going to play them.”