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At the Rink blog

Pietrangelo starting to produce points for Blues

Monday, 01.16.2012 / 1:58 PM

By Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent / At the Rink blog

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At the Rink blog
Pietrangelo starting to produce points for Blues
ST. LOUIS -- Alex Pietrangelo's six-game points streak is no fluke. But the St. Louis Blues' top defenseman wasn't quite himself in the early portions of the first half of the season.

"I kind of found myself second-guessing my shot there in the first half of the season," said Pietrangelo, who has 9 points in his last six games after only picking up 11 in his first 37 contests. "I think just simplifying it and putting pucks towards the net. I just want to shoot pucks towards the net a little more. It's made a huge difference."

But instead of getting discouraged, Pietrangelo kept at things and did all the other things that was making his game more complete.

Plus, the Blues (26-12-6), who host the Dallas Stars (24-18-1) tonight (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, KMOX 1120-AM), were doing what cures all players' ails.

"We were winning," Pietrangelo said. "If I don't get any points and we win every game, I'm happy.

"Watching some video, I caught myself passing off when I could have shot it. Ever since then, it's really been a turnaround."

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His mind and body was into accomodating all St. Louis Blues fans Sunday night at the team's annual Rink Tours event, but for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, a Greenwich, Conn. native and huge New York Giants fan, part of him was elsewhere ... and rightfully so.

Shattenkirk was also busy celebrating the Giants' 37-20 upset win over the Green Bay Packers, who many touted to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

Shattenkirk was able to watch the first half of the game before departing to his venue, which was the U.S. Ice Sports Complex in Fairview Heights, Ill.

"Fortunately, they had a little breathing room and I hopped in the car on my way there and turned the radio on and listened to the end of the game on the way there," Shattenkirk said. "I got to watch the majority of it and it was a great win for the G-Men.

"I've followed them through the tough times and the good ones."

But did you know Shattenkirk, listed as 5-foot-11 and 208 pounds, was a football player himself in high school?

It never amounted to much, especially when his hockey coaches got wind of what he was doing.

"My high school hockey coach told me no more. I had to causally let it go," Shattenkirk said. "When I was younger, I started playing (football) when I was like 10 years old or so. I played in high school for two years and once I went out to Ann Arbor (Mich.), that was it. I played linebacker and running back and then I was a punter."

Shattenkirk's popularity Sunday was not only evident by fans realizing he was a Giants fan but also because he helped the Blues snap their shootout funk with the winner in Saturday's 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild.

"A lot of people came up saying thanks for breaking the curse," Shattenkirk joked. "A lot of people were giving me props for the Giants, too. I think there were more Packers haters than Giants fans, but we'll take them."

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The Blues will go once again without winger Alex Steen (concussion symptoms) and defenseman Kris Russell (groin) tonight against the Stars. Both skated again and both didn't hit any speed bumps, and according to coach Ken Hitchcock, Thursday's home game against Edmonton is a realistic option.

"He had a very good day yesterday, very good day today," Hitchcock said of Steen, who will miss his ninth consecutive game tonight. "We'll practice him hard Tuesday and Wednesday and see how he is for Thursday. He hasn't had a team practice yet. All he's done is isolation practices. He'll get team practices in the next two days. Looks very good. We'll work him up and hopefully continue to get him ready for Thursday.

"Russell, same thing conditioning-wise. Not quite there. Tuesday, Wednesday practice and hopefully ready for Thursday also."

Forward Andy McDonald, out with a concussion, has played in three of 45 games this season.

Hitchcock was asked when he feels McDonald will shed the red no-contact jersey.

"Until the color changes, don't even get in there," Hitchcock said. "He's our best player on the ice, every day in practice but don't even get me going there. He scores all the goals in the shootouts, all the goals in the line rushes, but until the color of the sweater changes ... no."

Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres