Keith won't wear full shield in finals

Updated: May 25, 2010, 4:31 PM ET
ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- With seven fewer teeth to protect after a puck hit him in the mouth, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith has decided not wear a full face shield during the Stanley Cup finals.

Keith, who wears a half shield, also has decided not to have his replacements put in until after the finals.

"[I'll] be like this until the end of the season, and after that go in and hopefully get some nice teeth," Keith said Tuesday. "It's not out of the ordinary when a hockey player loses his teeth, but certainly I lost my fair share."

Two of the teeth knocked out were fake.

After catching Patrick Marleau's clearing attempt in the mouth Sunday, Keith missed less than seven minutes before returning to the ice. He later assisted on Dave Bolland's goal as the Hawks eliminated the San Jose Sharks from the Western Conference finals.

Game 1 of the finals against the Philadelphia Flyers is Saturday at the United Center.

Keith said the worst part of the ordeal was "getting needles in the gums and the roots" on Sunday. It was to deaden the area so he could return to the ice.

On Monday, Keith spent a couple of hours at the dentist.

"I could only do so much," he said. "It was just to tide it over until I could get some teeth in."

The 6-foot, 187-pound Keith said he's not a big eater with a full set of teeth, so he's facing more of a challenge.

"I always have trouble getting food in me," he said. "It takes a while as it is, now it's more of a battle.

"I've been all right. I still have some teeth in there on the side."

Keith, who is a Norris Trophy finalist and former Olympian, said he may try to get a different type of mouthpiece than the one he was wearing at the time.

And he's also improving his vocal skills. Hawks winger Patrick Sharp joked Sunday night that when Keith returned to the ice, he was mumbling and hard to understand.

"I feel like I'm getting better at talking now," he said. "But when it first happened, I was having some trouble learning how to talk with no teeth.

"I guess they had some trouble understanding what I was telling them on the power play."

And what was that?

"Give me the puck," he said.