OILERS NOTES: Keith set to reunite with Blackhawks

After 16 seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, the not-so-anticipated reunion is Saturday night

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It only took 17 games for Duncan Keith’s NHL career to come full circle.

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After 16 seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, the not-so-long awaited reunion is Saturday night. And it’ll be all kinds of weird and nostalgic things when the only other team he’s ever played for visits Rogers Place.

Maybe not as weird and nostalgic as it was when the Oilers visited Chicago on March 3, but it will be an emotional evening nonetheless.

“Of course,” said the 38-year-old defender. “I have been wearing this jersey for a long time and I have a lot of friends in this team. But it’s gonna be a fun game. I’m excited. It will be a new experience for me to play with an old team.

“But at the end of the day it’s another game on the schedule and two points at stake.”

Keith hasn’t been here long, but he’s already had a big impact on the Oilers. He’s a popular guy who fits in perfectly with the culture here and he gave them most of what they asked for in a second matchmaking role.

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“Duncs has been amazing,” said defenseman Tyson Barrie. “Guys in the room, we love him in there. He’s a calming presence. And he’s been great for us on the ice. He plays a lot of important minutes and minutes.

“He’s a guy I really admired so having the chance to play with him and be in the gym with him and see how he behaves opened my eyes. You watch what he does and you see how focused and composed he is and it just makes you want to go down the same path. You’re a little more connected because he’s there in the room.

Spending 16 years with one team, in a big American city, then reloading in Edmonton is a major adjustment for the three-time Stanley Cup champion, but he enjoys the trip, the growing pains and all.

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“It’s a unique situation for me,” he said. “It was also a good challenge and a lot of fun. We have a large group here.

“There were sections where I played really well and other times where I made mistakes. But overall I try to do what I can to help this team win games in the role that has been given to me so far. “

Head coach Dave Tippett faced Keith 26:49 in the overtime win over Winnipeg and sees him improve as he becomes more comfortable in his environment. He also plans to make her take some of the difficult minutes left by an injured nurse Darnell.

“If you watch him in a game, he’s a stable, stable player,” Tippet said. “He’s got a good stick and he reads situations pretty well. There are things that are different for him here than in the past, so he’s trying to acclimatize, but he’s been a solid player for us.

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“If you look at the minutes he played for us, that middle duo with him and Cody This was a key factor for us to get off to a good start.”

ANOTHER CLASSIC McDAVID PURPOSE

After another spectacular and impressive goal from Connor McDavid on Thursday night against Winnipeg, his teammates were still struggling to find new superlatives to describe their captain.

“It looks like we’re here every week to talk about an incredible goal he scored,” said Barrie. “It’s amazing. That’s what he does.

In a stun against Winnipeg that rivaled its goal-of-the-year contender against the New York Rangers just 13 days earlier, McDavid danced against three Jets defensemen and beat Connor Hellebuyck to tie the score at 14:25 of the third period.

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“I don’t know what makes him think he can go up against three or four guys,” said Barrie. “But, of course, he can.”

McDavid also doesn’t accumulate garbage time. He takes his game to another stratosphere when the Oilers need it most. The Rangers’ goal, where he slammed four New York defensemen, tied the game at 17:01 of the third period.

“A pretty special player,” Keith said. “This goal could have been more impressive than the one he had against the Rangers. It’s pretty amazing how he can wield the puck at full speed like that and wield the stick through the players. He did it again. And that was a huge goal for our team.

When McDavid finds this extra gear, even his own teammates become fans.

“It’s surreal,” said Kyle Turris. “It’s the NHL, everyone’s a good player, but you don’t see that (one in three or four) happening. For him to succeed like this in key, the clutch times are what make him the best in the world.

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“It’s fun to watch. You know it’s always a possibility. You are surprised, but neither are you surprised because we see it every day in practice.

HE SAID IT

“I have three brothers. My first brother always wore 71. My next brother was 72. My next brother had 73. So I had to choose between 70 and 74. – Goalkeeper Stuart Skinner explains why he wears 74.

Twitter.com/rob_tychkowski

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