NEW YORK — Kevin Shattenkirk has looked forward to this game. There’s some pride on the line against the Rangers.
“Any professional athlete would tell you they want to prove the team wrong that let them go,” the Lightning defenseman said before Tuesday’s game.
Shattenkirk, who grew up just outside of the Bronx in New Rochelle, signed with his hometown in 2017 with great fanfare. After two injury-marred seasons, the rebuilding Rangers bought out Shattenkirk’s four-year $26-million contract. He then signed with the Lightning for one year at $1.7 million.
At the time, Shattenkirk was angry with the Rangers and with himself. He knew he hadn’t played up to his promise but had thought he had a place on the team now that he was finally healthy.
He joined the Lightning with a chip on his shoulder to match the one the players already on the team carried from last year’s playoff disappointment.
While Shattenkirk wanted to make a point on Tuesday, the emotions weren’t too high going into the game. It’s different because he’s been here before. Shattenkirk sat in the visitor’s dressing room and on the visitor’s bench for four years before he made it to the other side. He did figure the first couple of shifts would feel weird, but that it’d all settle in once someone delivered a hit or something.
“I think it’s important that I don’t try to do too much,” he said. “I’ve been successful early on because I’ve just been playing my game and playing my role within the team. That’s what I have to do tonight and not get ahead of myself.”
Contact Diana C. Nearhos at email@example.com. Follow @dianacnearhos.