Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Shattenkirks; Soul-Searching; Brings Changes

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Shattenkirks; Soul-Searching; Brings Changes

Article excerpt

When the Blues were swept from the playoffs by the Los Angles Kings last May, Kevin Shattenkirk did some soul-searching.

And to help him find the way, he had lunch with Blues senior adviser Al MacInnis. By the time the elder and the younger had finished talking, Shattenkirk had come to a revelation.

He doesnt have to settle.

I think it was a moment where Al kind of grabbed me and said, If theres any time you want to just sit down and talk I know its your first playoff experience, use me as an outlet, Shattenkirk said.

And having it be the first time to go through the playoffs, I thought it would be a good idea to sit down with him and see what kind of changes he made, as a young player and going through the playoffs during his career. And I wanted to know what he saw (from me).

From his own perspective, Shattenkirk didnt like the view. By his own assessment, he struggled in the postseason. Big and fast, the forwards of the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings put targets on the backs of the Blues puck-moving defensemen. They took every opportunity to harass and hammer the likes of Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo.

The strategy was effective. Shattenkirk was not the player he had been during the regular season. His legs lost their spring, he became indecisive, he leaked confidence with every shift. The playoffs wore him down mentally and physically, and the ammunition he needed to fight back wasnt there.

The stamina you need at the end of the year, I just didnt seem to have it, Shattenkirk said. And its a matter of finding it when youre playing a team like LA. Al had plenty of examples that he used to relate to it. It was kind of stupid of me not to have talked to him before then.

Well, yes, MacInnis has some background in the topic. He played 1,416 NHL games, scored 1,274 points, won a Conn Smythe Tropy as the most valuable player of the playoffs, won a Norris Trophy as the leagues best defenseman, has his name on the Stanley Cup and a seat in the NHL Hall of Fame. Yes, he might have some insight.

When they talked, the 23-year-old Shattenkirk didnt need to explain anything to MacInnis. The retired No. 2 watched the playoffs, saw what was happening to Shattenkirk, recognized the tactical terror. MacInnis wore the same bulls-eye throughout his career. But he wanted to hear Shattenkirk say it.

I think I could have brought more to the table, Shattenkirk reflected. I kind of found it in the last two games against LA, but I think it was more that I was playing with a different mentality at that point, a mentality that was more desperate.

I think I needed more of that throughout the entire playoffs. I kind of played a little bit too much on my heels.

Its a cliche come every April. Media and players underline the importance of experience. They warn the dynamics and demands of postseason hockey are different. …

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