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Barry Trotz gives honest assessment of Kevin Shattenkirk

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USA TODAY Sports

Barry Trotz gives honest assessment of Kevin Shattenkirk

For 19 regular season games and 13 playoff games, the nation's capital was the home of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. The highly skilled defenseman was acquired by the Capitals during the 2017 trade deadline to help bolster the team’s defensive unit.

Shattenkirk’s time in Washington received mixed reviews. The Capitals fell in the second round of the playoffs to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Shattenkirk, despite being seen as the top prize of the trade deadline, ended up playing primarily on the Caps’ third pairing.

With Shattenkirk back in town on Friday as a member of the New York Rangers, Barry Trotz was asked Thursday about why the acquisition did not seem to work out for the Caps.

“I think it takes a little bit of adjustment,” Trotz said to the media after practice.

“We play a little different from some teams. It worked in areas that we wanted. He helped our power play. He made it more dangerous and that. I think everybody thought of him as a 1-2 and he really wasn't. He was a little lower. I think it worked out OK. I think he had a patch during the one series where it wasn't really good. I think he regained it and scored a big goal for us in Pitt. I just think, yeah, the first playoff series wasn't, that's what you remember. It sticks out. But I think overall he was fine.”

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The Rangers were also practicing at Kettler on Thursday which gave Shattenkirk an opportunity to respond to Trotz’s evaluation.

“It doesn't sit well with you,” he said. “It's nothing that you enjoy hearing, but I think there's a lot of people who probably think that about me and I like to use that in my favor and try to use that as something to just keep me boosted and prove people wrong.”

Shattenkirk signed a four-year $26.6 million contract with the Rangers in the offseason. Even with a deal that carries a $6.65 million cap hit, it is still believed to be somewhat of a hometown discount considering the New York native had offers for more money and longer term on the table.

Despite his new contract, however, Shattenkirk does not even play on the top pairing on his new team. Instead, he skates alongside Brady Skjei on the second pairing behind Ryan McDonagh and Nick Holden.

So perhaps it is hard to argue with Trotz’s point.

Shattenkirk’s offensive skills are undeniable and he already has five goals and 20 points in 27 games for his new team. His defensive acumen, however, is what is frequently called into question.

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When asked if he felt he was a top-pair player, Shattenkirk said, “I think I'm working towards it. I think there's a lot more room for me to grow. I think that I have to handle those top-end matchups a little bit better and when I get those opportunities, I really have to make sure that I make them count.

“I know we have a guy like Ryan McDonagh is a good example for me, someone who I try to watch and the way that he handles players like the Ovechkins and the Backstroms and the Crosbys, that's something that I'm still working towards. I don't think I'm there yet, but I think I can get there.”

Ultimately, you are worth what teams are willing to pay you. His worth to the Rangers is just over $26 million. Whether that makes him a No. 1 or 2 defenseman, that’s up to Shattenkirk to prove.

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How Holtby’s return could help Capitals escape mid-season doldrums

How Holtby’s return could help Capitals escape mid-season doldrums

The Capitals look to rebound from an ugly loss with a road game against the Nashville Predators (8 p.m. NBC Sports Washington). Washington has lost two games in a row and five of eight. The Predators beat the Capitals 6-3 on Dec. 31 at Capital One Arena and has won five in a row over against them.

Here is what to watch for in tonight’s game:  

1. Back to Holtby

After sustaining an eye injury in Saturday’s overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Braden Holtby is expected to play against the Predators. The Capitals did not hold a morning skate on Tuesday after traveling following a 4-1 loss at home Monday to the St. Louis Blues. Holtby started last season’s game in Nashville, a 6-3 loss on Nov. 14, 2017 where he allowed four goals in the second period and was pulled from the game. But Holtby still leads the NHL in even-strength save percentage (.939) since Nov. 4 among goalies who have started at least 13 games and it could be time to get him more consistent work – even with backup Pheonix Copley playing well behind him. Holtby has had his rest. If he’s healthy, it might be time to let him carry the weight for a while. 

2. Another Chance for Burakovsky?

There’s constant talk now about the future of Andre Burakovsky, who returned to the lineup Monday after a two-game absence. Caps coach Todd Reirdan was clear about what Burakovsky had to do to stay in the lineup. We’ll see tonight if that happens. Playing on the third line with Brett Connolly and Lars Eller, Burakovsky played just 10:46 against the Blues and was on the ice for a goal against. But he did have three shots on goal and seemed engaged. Burakovsky has been a healthy scratch in six of the past 16 games. 

3. No. 700 for Oshie

One night after defenseman Brooks Orpik played in his 1000th career game, forward T.J. Oshie will reach a milestone of his own with game No. 700. Oshie has been kept off the score sheet the past two games, but had two goals in a Jan. 8 game against the Philadelphia Flyers. 

4. Powering Up

Alex Ovechkin’s power-play goal in the loss to St. Louis on Monday might mean the Capitals are coming around in that area. A struggle for weeks, they at least now have two goals on the man advantage in the past four games. But they have slipped all the way to 14thin the NHL (21.2 percent) so there is work left to be done.

Monday’s game featured much better puck movement by the top unit.   

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How Holtby’s return could help Capitals escape mid-season doldrums

How Holtby’s return could help Capitals escape mid-season doldrums

The Capitals look to rebound from an ugly loss with a road game against the Nashville Predators (8 p.m. NBC Sports Washington). Washington has lost two games in a row and five of eight. The Predators beat the Capitals 6-3 on Dec. 31 at Capital One Arena and has won five in a row over against them. Here is what to watch for in tonight’s game:   

1. Back to Holtby

After sustaining an eye injury in Saturday’s overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Braden Holtby is expected to play against the Predators. The Capitals did not hold a morning skate on Tuesday after traveling following a 4-1 loss at home Monday to the St. Louis Blues. Holtby started last season’s game in Nashville, a 6-3 loss on Nov. 14, 2017 where he allowed four goals in the second period and was pulled from the game. But Holtby still leads the NHL in even-strength save percentage (.939) since Nov. 4 among goalies who have started at least 13 games and it could be time to get him more consistent work – even with backup Pheonix Copley playing well behind him. Holtby has had his rest. If he’s healthy, it might be time to let him carry the weight for a while.  2.Another Chance for Burakovsky?There’s constant talk now about the future of Andre Burakovsky, who returned to the lineup Monday after a two-game absence. Caps coach Todd Reirdan was clear about what Burakovsky had to do to stay in the lineup. We’ll see tonight if that happens. Playing on the third line with Brett Connolly and Lars Eller, Burakovsky played just 10:46 against the Blues and was on the ice for a goal against. But he did have three shots on goal and seemed engaged. Burakovsky has been a healthy scratch in six of the past 16 games.  3. No. 700 for OshieOne night after defenseman Brooks Orpik played in his 1000th career game, forward T.J. Oshie will reach a milestone of his own with game No. 700. Oshie has been kept off the score sheet the past two games, but had two goals in a Jan. 8 game against the Philadelphia Flyers.  4. Powering UpAlex Ovechkin’s power-play goal in the loss to St. Louis on Monday might mean the Capitals are coming around in that area. A struggle for weeks, they at least now have two goals on the man advantage in the past four games. But they have slipped all the way to 14thin the NHL (21.2 percent) so there is work left to be done. Monday’s game featured much better puck movement by the top unit.    

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