Kevin Shattenkirk’s return home to play for the New York Rangers wasn’t filled with “sunshine and rainbows” as he jokingly said he expected after Sunday’s practice at Citi Field ahead of the 2018 Winter Classic. The big free agent acquisition hasn’t fully settled into his role on the blue line after signing a four-year, $26.6 million deal over the summer. The 28-year-old Shattenkirk may lead Rangers defensemen in points (22), but he’s on pace for his lowest offensive output in four seasons as he averages 0.58 points per game. All in all, Shattenkirk hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations placed upon him when he entered the lineup. Head coach Alain Vigneault called him a “work in progress,” an assessment the blue liner agreed with. “We’re still working through how he wants me to play and how he just wants his defensemen to play,” Shattenkirk said. “I’ve watched guys who’ve been here for a while like [Ryan McDonagh] and Marc [Staal], Nick Holden’s another guy. I think that there’s elements in their game that I’m trying to incorporate and add to my game. We play slightly different defensively than I’m used to. It’s something that I like. It’s aggressive. It’s something that intrinsically I haven’t gotten it to become a natural instinct yet and I think I need to get those little things into my game.” “There’s no doubt that our expectations and his expectations are a little bit higher than what we’ve seen so far,” said Vigneault. “I think Shatty’s probably putting a little bit of pressure on himself to do real well in front of new teammates, a new environment, friends and family. Sometimes it takes a little bit of time. He’s not the first player to go through this, to come back home and play. But he’s a hard working young man with a real good attitude, very accountable to his performance. He knows the areas that he needs to improve and that we expect him to do better and I’m very confident that we’re going to get there because our team needs that.” Having grown up just outside New York City in New Rochelle, N.Y., Shattenkirk will have plenty of friends and family inside Citi Field on Monday for the game against the Buffalo Sabres. And being so local, that’s been a trend all season long at Madison Square Garden, where there’s always someone he knows in attendance watching the games. That’s caused him to put too much pressure on himself — enough to have a negative influence on his game.
Kevin Shattenkirk looking to be more than ‘work in progress’ with Rangers
Pro Hockey Talk | Dec 31