Duncan Keith isn't one of my three stars of the series the Blackhawks just wrapped against San Jose to reach the Stanley Cup Finals, but let's pause here minute to grasp when the all-world defenseman did on Sunday.
Keith lost seven teeth in the second period when a clearing attempt by Patrick Marleau struck him in the mouth - that's three on top and four more on the bottom, if you are keeping score at home.
Keith missed roughly six minutes, only a handful of shifts, before returning and assisted on Dave Bolland's tying goal moments later. He wound up playing more than 29 minutes on the afternoon and blocked 5 shots.
"I'll take all my teeth out if we can keep winning," said Keith, who was there at his locker to meet the media after the game despite a mouth that looked like something out of horror movie.
"It's just missing teeth," Keith said.
These Hawks never cease to amaze.
Now back to the three stars of the sweep of the Sharks.
1. Antti Niemi. He stopped 129 of 136 shots in the four games and it was his play in the first 10 minutes of Games 1 and 2 at HP Pavilion that set the tone for what happened.
2. Dustin Byfuglien. The Big Man scored 3 game-winning goals in four games. Contributions don’t come any more important than that. Byfuglien scored with 6:45 to play to snap a 1-1 tie in Game 1; in overtime in Game 3; and on a power play with 5:55 left on Sunday.
3. Jonathan Toews. We’re running out of adjectives to describe the captain. Not only did he get at least 1 point in each game, his hustle, desire and relentless work along the walls should be put on a tape and shown to every player in the league under the title: This is how it's done. Just a brilliant player.
In the end the Hawks were too deep for the Sharks and got more big saves from Niemi than San Jose did from Evgeni Nabokov. The goals Nabokov allowed to Patrick Sharp in Game 1 and Andrew Ladd in Game 2 let his team down in the worst way.
So now it’s the Flyers or Canadiens for the Hawks in the Finals. It looks like Philadelphia, which would be a tough matchup because of its size, but does anyone think these Hawks will be denied the Stanley Cup? I don’t see how.