Cre­at­ing a buzz

Why Shat­tenkirk is draw­ing so much at­ten­tion ahead of the NHL trade dead­line

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS - BY JONAS SIEGEL THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

It was six years ago this month that the St. Louis Blues ac­quired Kevin Shat­tenkirk from the Colorado Avalanche.

Now, Shat­tenkirk’s fu­ture in St. Louis is in ques­tion. The 28-year-old from New Rochelle, N.Y., is likely to draw the most buzz ahead of the March 1 trade dead­line, a right-shoot­ing de­fence­man on an ex­pir­ing con­tract who of­fers al­most un­ri­valled pro­duc­tion from the back end.

“His of­fen­sive skills are top­notch,” team­mate and fre­quent de­fen­sive part­ner Carl Gun­nars­son said of Shat­tenkirk, who’s on pace for a ca­reer-best 16 goals and 57 points.

“He al­ways seems like he’s find­ing the open guy and he’s al­ways get­ting to the open spots,” added Colton Parayko, another mem­ber of the Blues de­fence. “He’s got a good shot, he’s a good passer, he’s got vi­sion - pretty much ev­ery­thing you look for in an of­fen­sive de­fence­man.”

In fact, head­ing into Mon­day’s play, Shat­tenkirk was tied for 10th among all NHL de­fence­men with 238 points since the start of the 2011-12 sea­son, 10th with 181 as­sists and 11th with 57 goals.

It’s on the power play where he’s most po­tent though, mak­ing him es­pe­cially at­trac­tive to po­ten­tial suit­ors ahead of the dead­line.

Shat­tenkirk boasts 122 power-play points over the last five-plus sea­sons, sec­ond only to Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors cap­tain Erik Karls­son among NHL de­fend­ers. His 31 power-play goals in that same stretch trail only Shea We­ber and Oliver Ek­manLars­son.

Prior to Mon­day, he was tied for first at the po­si­tion with 18 power-play points this sea­son and sec­ond with seven pow­er­play goals.

“It’s some­thing I wish I could do, but there’s only a few guys in the league that have that kind of abil­ity,” Gun­nars­son said of Shat­tenkirk’s power-play prow­ess.

How­ever ap­peal­ing he may be as a trade chip be­fore the dead­line - just over two weeks away - the Blues might be bet­ter served keep­ing Shat­tenkirk them­selves. For all their strug­gles this sea­son (though not of late), St. Louis is still a vi­able threat to com­pete for the Stan­ley Cup af­ter reach­ing the West­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nal last year.

Shat­tenkirk gar­ners only the fourth-most min­utes on their de­fence (about 20 min­utes pergame), but the club has no com­pa­ra­ble threat for the of­fence he pro­vides.

Stay tuned.

TRENDS Per­haps to some alarm for the Mon­treal Cana­di­ens, Carey Price con­tin­ues to trend down­ward this sea­son.

Save per­cent­age by month for the 29-year-old: Oc­to­ber: .954 Novem­ber: .944 De­cem­ber: .899 Jan­uary: .906 Feb­ru­ary: .879 Price is tied for ninth among NHL goal­tenders with a .917 save per­cent­age (min. 30 starts) and third with a .934 clip at even-strength. He’s strug­gled most with his team short­handed, yield­ing a league-lead­ing 32 power-play goals against.

THE SUL­LI­VAN BUMP Pitts­burgh went 33-16-5 with a plus-41 goal dif­fer­en­tial af­ter re­plac­ing head coach Mike John­ston with Mike Sul­li­van in mid-De­cem­ber last sea­son, even­tu­ally cap­tur­ing their fourth Stan­ley Cup the fol­low­ing spring. Teams opt­ing to dis­miss a coach mid-sea­son can only hope for such a bump. Re­sults have been pos­i­tive for clubs mak­ing a move so far this sea­son: Florida Pan­thers Change: Re­placed Ger­rard Gal­lant with Tom Rowe

Record at fir­ing (goal dif­fer­en­tial): 11-10-1 (mi­nus-2) Since: 13-10-9 (mi­nus-15) --New York Is­lan­ders Change: Re­placed Jack Ca­puano with Doug Weight

Record at fir­ing (goal dif­fer­en­tial): 17-17-8 (mi­nus-6) Since: 8-2-2 (plus-11) --St. Louis Blues Change: Re­placed Ken Hitch­cock with Mike Yeo

Record at fir­ing (goal dif­fer­en­tial): 24-21-5 (mi­nus-16) Since: 5-1-0 (plus-12) --Bos­ton Bru­ins Change: Re­placed Claude Julien with Bruce Cas­sidy

Record at fir­ing (goal dif­fer­en­tial): 26-23-6 (mi­nus-6)

Since: 3-0-0 (plus-8) DAL­LAS GOAL­TEND­ING The much-ma­ligned Stars goalie tan­dem of Antti Niemi and Kari Le­hto­nen has been shock­ingly ef­fec­tive at five-on­five, Dal­las sit­ting sev­enth over­all with a .929 save per­cent­age. It’s dread­ful net­mind­ing on the league’s worst penalty kill that’s re­ally doomed the Stars, the club sit­ting last by a wide mar­gin with an ugly .819 save per­cent­age.

DOWN YEAR? Corey Perry fi­nally had his first multi-goal game of the sea­son last week, scor­ing his 10th and 11th goals of the year in a win over Buf­falo. The 31-yearold, who trails only Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos with 311 goals since the 2007-08 sea­son, is headed for his slimmest goal out­put since be­com­ing a full-time NHL player.

Perry is on pace for a mere 16 goals or less than half of last year’s to­tal (34).

The Peter­bor­ough, Ont., na­tive ap­pears to be suf­fer­ing from some un­due mis­for­tune, cur­rently shoot­ing just 7.1 per cent - which would be a ca­reer low - on about the same num­ber of shots per-game (2.7) as last year.

Prior to Mon­day’s games, Perry’s 11 goals were tied with Ari­zona’s Radim Vr­bata and Ed­mon­ton’s Ryan Nu­gen­tHop­kins for the fewest among for­wards with at least 150 shots this sea­son.

10 WITH 10 Prior to Mon­day, only two teams had at least 10 play­ers with 10 goals or more al­ready this sea­son: the Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals and Min­nesota Wild.

CP PHOTO

St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (91) cel­e­brates his game-win­ning goal with de­fence­man Kevin Shat­tenkirk (22) af­ter scor­ing against the Toronto Maple Leafs in over­time of an NHL game Thurs­day in Toronto.

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