NEW YORK—Kevin Shattenkirk did not arrive in time to participate in Tuesday’s morning skate following the Monday night trade, but his presence still was felt in the visitors’ dressing room at Madison Square Garden.
“It’s like there’s a quiet confidence now,” defenseman Karl Alzner explained.
“There have been years when we’ve been really good and we haven’t picked anybody and you’re kinda like, ‘Alright, we still have a good team but it would have been nice to have that little boost.’
“Now,” Alzner added, “it seems like we’ve gotten that. It’s been a quiet confidence this morning. Guys have a little bit more energy, are a little bit giddy in a way, which is kinda funny. It’s a cool thing to be a part of.”
Across the room, veterans Justin Williams and Alex Ovechkin acknowledged that management did its job. And now the pressure is squarely on the players to do theirs.
“We believe we have an even better team than we had last year,” Williams said.
“But it’s how we respond to it. You have to embrace the pressure on yourself. Because after [the trade], we still have to go out and play. It’s not just on paper, it’s how we come together, it’s how we play and how we respond to it.”
Ovechkin said: “Every year we talk about, ‘This is our year, this is our year.’ Enough Talk. It’s time to do something.”
Williams also praised Shattenkirk’s on-ice demeanor.
“I like that he’s got some attitude to him,” said Williams, who faced him often when both played in the Western Conference. “He’s not just an offensive guy that’s going to shy away when it gets tough. Yes, he’s good offensively. But he doesn’t back down, and that’s what I like.”
Although the overwhelming mood was one of excitement, there are a few players who know Shattenkirk’s arrival means less ice time. Or even no ice time.
Against the Rangers, Nate Schmidt is expected to play alongside Shattenkirk.
But Schmidt also knows that when Brooks Orpik is ready to return from injury, there are no guarantees.
“For the team, this is a great move,” Schmidt said. “You can’t be more happy for what our guys got in return. You got a heckuva player. What more can you ask for in a trade that brings in a player of his magnitude? Personally, it’s tough. But this is good for the team. This is a good for us in the long run.”
Coach Barry Trotz, meanwhile, said the chance to add a player of Shattenkirk’s ability was simply too good to pass up given the sense of urgency the Caps feel this season.
“Obviously we gave up a real good player and some picks,” Trotz said, referring to prospect Zach Zanford. “But at the same time, we’re getting a real good player. You don’t want to have an opportunity go by, where you think that you could have made a difference. [General Manager Brian MacLellan] is doing everything he can to see if he can make a difference for us.”
RELATED: UPDATED NHL POWER RANKINGS