GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Fourteen games. Fourteen opportunities to prepare. Fourteen opportunities to win games.
That is the philosophy Kevin Shattenkirk is preaching as the Rangers embark on the homestretch of the regular season.
“We’re working to win every game,” Shattenkirk said following practice Sunday. The team then flew to Edmonton, where they will begin a four-game road trip Monday night against the Oilers.
“That’s our mindset and has been all year,” Shattenkirk said. “I think with the way the roster has been in flux and the way they’ve been trying to get some younger guys some ice time and some games, we have to be ready to adjust. But it’s on us to be able to prepare for every game and try to win, and I think we haven't lost that mentality in here.”
Still, the difficulty of preparing to win hockey games in a season that was constructed around a rebuilding process wasn’t lost on Shattenkirk, who was signed in July 2017 to be a key component for what was thought of at the time as a playoff contender.
“It’s a different situation,” Shattenkirk said. “In my mind, recently, I’ve been trying to replicate that mentality; that I am getting ready for playoffs and trying to raise my game to that level.”
And for the New Rochelle native, these games also serve as a chance to finish “a bit of roller coaster” season in a positive fashion.
“There’s a lot of areas I’d like to improve on,” said Shattenkirk, who drew back into the lineup Saturday against the Devils after being a healthy scratch in the 3-2 shootout loss in Detroit last week. Coming off knee surgery that cost him the final 36 games of last season, Shattenkirk has 23 points in 59 games this season.
“I’m chipping in other possible areas to make sure I’m at least contributing.”
No update on Hajek. David Quinn did not have an update on defenseman Libor Hajek, who sustained a left shoulder separation from a hit by Devils right wing Blake Coleman in the third period Saturday night. “He’s going for an MRI today,” Quinn said. “It doesn’t look good, though.”