GLENDALE – Nearly two weeks into his second stint with the Coyotes, forward Brendan Shinnimin is starting to get a little itchy to score his first NHL goal.
"The last couple games I’ve had a couple good chances to score," said Shinnimin, who lit the lamp 131 times in his four-year junior career and 34 more times in two-plus seasons in the American Hockey League. "If we just keep doing the right things and keep defending well and keep creating chances, I think we’ll get the bounce and one will go in."
Granted, scoring goals in the NHL is no easy task, and Shinnimin’s next game will be just his ninth in the League. But the 24-year-old undrafted rookie is earning more trust from the coaches with each shift. Last Thursday he played a career-high 14:00 in a low-scoring, tight-checking game vs. Carolina.
"I think it’s going really well," Shinnimin said. "This time around I’m a lot more comfortable and a lot more confident as the games have gone on. I’ve gotten better each game."
Shinnimin has been playing on a line with Lucas Lessio, another young forward looking to stay in the NHL long-term. The two of them, who also played together in the AHL, are building a nice chemistry and with each NHL game they’re trying to evolve from being “energy guys” into offensive contributors.
Head Coach Dave Tippett likes the way Shinnimin plays the game.
"He’s all in, all the time," Tippett said. "And he’s got some good skill. He’s played well. He’s a little spark plug out there that hasn’t looked out of place in the games at all."
Tippett sees Shinnimin as a playmaker with potential to chip in goals.
"He creates opportunities off work and taking pucks off people and making good plays in traffic," Tippett said. "He does have a good shot and does get pucks on the net. He’s had a couple of really good opportunities to score, it just hasn’t gone in."
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Two days before being recalled by the Coyotes for the second time, Shinnimin notched two goals and one assist for the Eastern Conference in the AHL All-Star Game. It’s an honor he added to a resume that also includes being named the Canadian Hockey League’s Player of the Year in 2011-12 when he notched 58 goals and 76 assists in just 69 games for the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League.
Shinnimin credits his Tri-City coaches – Don Nachbaur and Jim Hiller – with helping him develop into a pro player.
"Don Nachbaur taught me how to be a pest and that’s a pretty big part of my game," Shinnimin said. "And Jim Hiller really helped me a lot with skill development and my mental game. He opened my eyes to the mental game and controlling my emotions."
Hiller is now an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings. He and Shinnimin briefly chatted before Saturday’s game at Gila River Arena.
"It was pretty cool seeing him in an NHL rink and it was really fun to play against him," Shinnimin said.
He’s hoping to do that many more times.
"I want to stick here as long as I can," Shinnimin said. "Things change, and I don’t want to give them a reason to send me back down."
He added, "I’m happy and blessed to be here. I’m just going to continue to work hard and continue to build my game."