Prior to the Red Wings matchup tonight against the Canadiens, the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James reports that the young goal scorer will have to be a net front presence in order to stay in Detroit. Head coach Jeff Blashill said that Mantha will need to be a big body in front of the net, and he continues on:
“His talent will take him lots of places. I see a real mature and confident guy. He seems to be real confident, real comfortable in his own skin, and those things are going to help him take on the mental challenge that you face as a guy trying to make his way into the NHL.”
Red Wings fans have been waiting for the former first round pick in the 2013 NHL draft to find regular time with the big club. Mantha contributed last season, but was given the opportunity in limited shifts. This season with Grand Rapids, he scored eight goals and had 10 points in as many games. Regardless, the Wings called up Tyler Bertuzzi earlier in the week, and finally brought Mantha up after Andreas Athanasiou suffered a knee injury, expected to sideline him for 1-2 weeks. Thomas Vanek is expected to be back sometime this week so Mantha’s impact needs to be felt. Though it seems unfair, the Red Wings have made younger players “earn” their ice time dating back to the days of Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov and Nick Lidstrom.
In other Red Wings news:
- Vanek coming back this week should help a power play that has struggled in his absence. St. James writes that the Wings are making a more concerted effort to put pucks on net, and while Blashill saw some hope in the work done on Thursday against Vancouver, Detroit still failed to register a goal in three solid chances. Frans Nielsen’s power play unit has been strong, with speedsters Dylan Larkin and Athanasiou flanking him. Once again, Blashill wants more of a net front presence but the Red Wings have struggled to shoot through traffic and at times, have been indecisive when it comes to passing or shooting. Better faceoff wins and strong entries into the zone are also points of emphasis St. James reports.