06/15/2015 11:02 EDT | Updated 06/15/2016 05:59 EDT

Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

CHICAGO - Duncan Keith played more minutes than anyone else in the Stanley Cup playoffs and had the biggest impact.

So it was a no-brainer that Keith would take the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP after leading the Chicago Blackhawks to their third Stanley Cup in six years.

Keith averaged more than 30 minutes a night during the Blackhawks' 23-game journey and led all playoff scorers with 18 assists. He also added the game-winning goal in Game 6 as Chicago shut out the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0 in Game 6.

"A lot of nights he's the reason why we win a lot of games," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Seems to rise to the challenge in big games."

The 2014 Norris Trophy winner as the NHL's best defenceman was consistently the Blackhawks' best player. Because of that, he beat out captain and 2010 Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Toews and Lightning defender Victor Hedman.

Keith, who finished with 21 points, played all situations and in the final played a big part in shutting down the Lightning's Steven Stamkos and productive "Triplets" line.

"He's one of those special, special athletes that won't give up," defenceman Brent Seabrook said. "He's fun to have been around and watched him progress into this player that he is."

Keith is the first defenceman to win the Conn Smythe since Scott Niedermayer of the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. It's the 10th time a defenceman won the trophy since its inception in 1965.

Watching from his home in Sweden, 2002 Conn Smythe winner Nicklas Lidstrom was impressed with Keith's playoffs. Lidstrom said Keith was "getting better and better with more ice time."

Keith played over 80 minutes more than the next-closest player, Hedman, who was the front-runner to win had the Lightning captured the Cup. In Game 6, he eclipsed the 700-minute mark in this post-season.


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