Colorado played its worst game of the season last night against Northwest Division rival Vancouver Canucks (a trend that continues from last season), but it will still be a night to remember for 2007 first-round pick and rookie defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who made his NHL debut. So how did the 21-year-old fare in his first game?
Shattenkirk was okay. He drew penalty and generated a good chance on the ensuing power play. He had a couple of nice defensive plays though his delay of game penalty was annoying. He's not the answer to the Avs defensive woes but I like him better than Kyle Cumiskey...
After taking another look at the game this morning, I think this analysis is dead on. Shattenkirk played like a rookie, but a talented one. He made a few mistakes on the defensive end of the ice, allowing the Canucks to bring the puck too deep into the zone at times. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, as it's difficult to adjust from the pure speed difference between AHL opponents and an elite offensive team like Vancouver.
Shattenkirk really showed his promise on the power play, as he displayed an advanced knowledge of the Avalanche's preferred rotation by playing the point and releasing a booming one-timer from the edge of the left faceoff circle.
He's not a lockdown defensive player -- which is exactly what the Avalanche are currently missing -- but he showed enough two-way ability to give the currently wounded Colorado defensive core a boost. Considering this season's Avalanche is built to outscore their opposition, that's not an altogether bad thing. It's only one game, and Shattenkirk played well enough to earn more ice time Saturday against the Dallas Stars.