Daily Herald
Hawks' newest odd couple adjusting with good results
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 4/5/2010 1:53 PM

Go ahead and call Duncan Keith and Dustin Byfuglien the Blackhawks' odd couple.

Byfuglien sees where you're coming from.

The 6-foot-1, 196-pound silky smooth Keith and the 6-4, 257-pound rough-around-the-edges Byfuglien have hit it off as defense partners ever since coach Joel Quenneville put them together in his search for a way to retool the back end after injuries to Brian Campbell and Kim Johnsson.

"I like the matchup with Duncs and Buff," Quenneville said. "There's some puck possession, there's a threat off the rush (and) there's a threat off the point as well. There's cleaner exits out of our zone.

"I think Buff has grown a little bit more and is getting a little more responsibility in his own end. He's more comfortable, and playing with Duncs should help you be comfortable knowing he's still got a dependable and reliable partner."

Byfuglien enjoys the pairing even if his partner likes to play a "weird way," according to the forward turned defenseman.

"We just go out and play together," Byfuglien said. "He likes to play different in a real weird way and I'm kind of the same way. I guess we just kind of talk to each other and just read off each other more or less than sit there and try to figure each other out. Just read and whatever you see go to that spot and hope it works.

"We're kind of an odd couple, I think so. It's fun and I enjoy it. He keeps me on the happy side back there. I can always come off and smile and kind of forget about what happened and just wait for the next (shift)."

Keith admits it has been an adjustment after splitting from long-time partner Brent Seabrook, who is now paired with Niklas Hjalmarsson. With Seabrook, it was Keith who would to take the puck and go, but Byfuglien likes to do that too.

"For me it's just getting used to Buff back there," Keith said with a chuckle. "He likes to move up a little more than Seabs did so I have to be aware of that. I like to join the rush and help create offense and so does he, so I think it's been an adjustment that way, just being smart, but it's been good for me, though."

Byfuglien's ability to return to his old position on defense and play at such a high level has helped cover a problem that could have become serious with Campbell and Johnsson out long-term.

Campbell's broken collarbone will keep him out of the lineup until at least the second round of the playoffs. Johnsson remains sidelined indefinitely with a concussion and hasn't skated since suffering the injury on March 13.

"He's been pretty (darn) solid," Keith said of Byfuglien. "For a guy who has played forward the last two years to go back and play defense, he has played really good. There's definitely some things he has to adjust to, but for the most part he's been great."

Blackhawks @ Dallas Stars

Time: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

TV: Comcast SportsNet

Radio: WGN 720-AM

What to watch: The Stars were eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday, making it two years in a row they have missed the postseason. Dallas hasn't had as much as a three-game winning streak all season. The Hawks have had eight winning streaks of three games or more.

Season series: Dallas leads 2-1

Next: St. Louis Blues at the United Center, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday