If you were understandably entranced by the jaw-dropping brilliance of Connor McDavid, it might have been easy to miss it in the magnitude of the moment.
In between McDavid putting Jacob Markstrom on a poster and his shimmy to shake Nikita Zadorov, Duncan Keith threaded a pass – through the wickets of Selke Trophy finalist Elias Lindholm – that only a few players on the planet could sew.
Newly named Chicago Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson spent hundreds of hours diligently tracking tens of thousands passes made in 2010 and beyond as a video analyst intern and that’s what stood out.
“Probably how amazing Duncan Keith is,” Davidson said recently on the DFO Rundown podcast. “Getting to watch him and getting to see him move the puck and transport the puck. I was tracking all of our passes, pass location, passing synergies. Even when I wasn’t tracking passes, just watching him defend. I haven’t seen as much hockey as some people, but he’s probably one of the best players I’ve ever seen.”
Keith, 38, turned back the clock a decade on Friday night with his first three-point night in the playoffs since the spring he captured the Conn Smythe in 2015 with the Hawks. He became the third-oldest player ever to score three points in a postseason game.
More importantly, he steadied the Edmonton Oilers against an early blitz from the Calgary Flames, and made a slew of sublime defensive plays that served as pressure-relief valves against a relentless Flames forecheck.
McDavid may have stolen the eyeballs with another viral highlight, but Keith’s presence on the backend is a big reason why we have a series now, this best-of-seven Battle of Alberta rollercoaster all even at one game apiece. Game 3 is on Sunday night in Edmonton.
Oilers GM Ken Holland was criticized for taking on the Keith’s full salary cap hit in a trade last June, but Game 2 proved the method to his madness.