GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Kevin Shattenkirk took his turns on defense in practice Tuesday at MSG Training Center, skating with the rest of the rebuilding Rangers, a group that has had three chances to win so far and failed each time.
"We haven’t really been talking about 0-3 that much,” Shattenkirk said. “We’ve been talking about the areas we can improve on.”
Shattenkirk knows he has areas he can improve on. He stood out in practice because he was paired with Fredrik Claesson, who has yet to play. The Rangers have eight defensemen. Coach David Quinn used seven in Sunday’s 8-5 loss at Carolina. He indicated he will go with six Thursday night when the Rangers host the San Jose Sharks.
Quinn was noncommittal about sitting Shattenkirk. But Shattenkirk admitted his play has been “not great” and sounded resigned to being a healthy scratch.
“I’m not a guy who would take that the wrong way and mope about it,” Shattenkirk said. “It’s the NHL. If you’re not playing well . . . There’s guys that are playing well. Tony DeAngelo played a phenomenal game the other night. He’s earned a spot on the roster.
“I think all the ‘Ds’ have earned a spot on the roster and I’m probably the guy who needs to fight a little bit harder to get my spot back . . . I know that it’s a process, but this is probably a good little kick to get me going and get me out of this I don’t want to say slump, but just get my confidence back and start playing the game that I know that I have.”
The Rangers signed the New Rochelle native to a four-year, $26.6 million deal in the summer of 2017. But he suffered a meniscus tear in his left knee during training camp last year and wasn’t his old two-way self for the most part after that. He underwent season-ending surgery on Jan. 22. He currently has no points and is minus-4.
“He’s coming off major knee surgery,” Quinn said. "I think he’s still a little bit hesitant because of what happened last year . . . He’s going to get every chance to get his confidence back . . . This isn’t a punishment.”
Quinn said the staff “is still trying to figure out the best mix.” So he did more tinkering with his lines and pairs in practice, including having rookie Brett Howden centering for Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello.
“It’s a good opportunity,” Howden said.
So how hungry are the Rangers to win a game?
“As hungry as we would be if we were 3-0,” Kreider said. “You’ve got to take the good with the bad and try to learn, just continue to try to get better. It’s a long year.”