- The Washington Times - Friday, April 21, 2017

When the Capitals traded for Kevin Shattenkirk at the deadline, Washington thought it was getting an offensive-minded defenseman from St. Louis who could boost their power play unit and provide depth to the blue line come playoff time.

But in a first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs that has turned into more of a dogfight than anyone expected, Shattenkirk’s impact has been muted — to the point that his minutes have nose-dived since the first two games.

In Game 4, the 28-year-old saw just 12:54 of ice time, the lowest of his career 51 playoff games.

“It’s situational,” Shattenkirk said, explaining his drop in minutes. “I think the way [Game 4] was, there so many penalties and not many power plays for us. …That happens sometimes and that’s the playoffs. Especially on the road, it can be a little hard to find your matchups a little bit.”

Shattenkirk logged 22 minutes in the first game, a Caps win, and nearly 30 minutes in Game 2’s 4-3 loss in double overtime. In Game 1, Shattenkirk was particularly aggressive, leading Washington with nine shots on goal.

But as the series has progressed, Shattenkirk and defenseman Brooks Orpik have struggled as Washington’s third defensive pairing.

Orpik and Shattenkirk rank last on the team with a plus/minus of -5 and -4, respectively. That means that Orpik and Shattenkirk have been outscored by five goals and four goals when on the ice.

“Game 3 was a really bad game for me personally,” said Shattenkirk, who logged 16:27 in that game. “Brooks didn’t have much to do with that.”

Shattenkirk said assistant coach Todd Reirden told him his minutes wouldn’t be reduced again moving forward, but Shattenkirk said he’s prepared to contribute nonetheless.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz said he and his coaches communicate with players about their playing time. But Trotz also said ice time is irrelevant to his players in the playoffs.

“Guys understand that they’re not getting the minutes they were before,” Trotz said. “To them, it’s all about winning. That’s the No. 1 thing.”

Shattenkirk echoed that line Friday, telling reporters reduced playing time doesn’t bother him.

“We won a hockey game, so that’s fine by me,” he said. “I don’t mind it at all. It’s something that I think everyone has to be prepared for just in case, but when it’s my turn to play 20-plus minutes, I have to be ready.”

The Capitals face the Maple Leafs in Game 5 Friday at 7 p.m. at the Verizon Center.

 

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