Kevin Shattenkirk's game is being called into question by yet another NHL head coach.
In December, Barry Trotz of the Washington Capitals apologized for suggesting Shattenkirk isn't a top-pair defenseman following a failed playoff run with last season's Presidents' Trophy winners. And now, in advance of Monday's Winter Classic, New York Rangers bench boss Alain Vigneault admitted it's taken longer than expected for Shattenkirk to establish himself with his new club.
"I would say he's a work in progress," Vigneault said Sunday, according to Dan Rosen of NHL.com. "There's no doubt that our expectations and his expectations are a little bit higher than what we've seen so far."
Shattenkirk was dealt to Washington by the St. Louis Blues prior to last season's trade deadline, and he then signed four-year, $26.6-million contract with the Rangers on July 1, 2017. He enters Monday's outdoor game against the Buffalo Sabres with five goals and 17 assists to his credit, but he's been held without a goal over his past 22 games and is pointless in the last five.
Vigneault suggested the pressure of playing in his hometown may be weighing on the defenseman.
"I think (Shattenkirk) is probably putting a little bit of pressure on himself to do real well in front of new teammates, a new environment, friends and family," he said. "Sometimes it takes a little bit of time."
The New Rochelle, N.Y., native expects 100 friends and family members to be in the stands at Citi Field for the Winter Classic. A breakout on the big stage would do everyone well.