With three consecutive meetings between the Blackhawks and Wild in the post-season, tensions between the two teams are bound to be high when the two teams meet, but Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith took his aggression too far Tuesday night.
Midway through the first period, Keith was attempting to hold the puck in the Minnesota zone when he was hit by Wild winger Charlie Coyle. The contact from Coyle knocked Keith onto his back, and the Blackhawks blueliner took exception. Laying on his back, Keith swung his stick up at Coyle, catching him in the face and drawing blood:
Thankfully, the slash didn’t do too much damage to Coyle and he was patched up by the Wild medical staff. He would end up missing roughly five minutes of action, but returned with five minutes remaining in the first period and took a few shifts before the opening frame was through. As for Keith, the slash ended his night, as he was handed a five-minute match penalty for intent to injure and booted from the game.
Losing Keith is a major blow to the Blackhawks, especially in Tuesday’s game. Chicago entered the contest without Brent Seabrook, who is sidelined with an illness, and now the Blackhawks may have to be prepared to be without their Norris Trophy-winning blueliner a while longer thanks to his slash on Coyle.
Keith has twice been suspended in his career, and it’s likely his hack on Coyle will mark Keith’s third time being handed down a ban from the Department of Player Safety. That’s especially likely considering Keith’s last suspension, a one-game ban in June 2013, came following a similar play that resulted in Los Angeles Kings winger Jeff Carter sustaining a cuts to his face and chipped and cracked teeth. Prior to that, Keith had been suspended five games for an elbow on Daniel Sedin.
The incident is undoubtedly going to be reviewed and Keith is almost certainly going to have a hearing. And once he does the Blackhawks will probably have to learn to live without Keith for at least one more game, and quite possibly even longer.