Detroit Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha is definitely feeling the pressure right now.
Fresh off a new four-year contract extension, Mantha has largely struggled this campaign. With just five goals in his first 23 games played, he even found himself a healthy scratch last month. However, he may be turning things around with three goals in his past five.
Even so, the Red Wings need Mantha to consistently produce.
“I knew when we started the season I wasn’t playing good, so I had to figure something out,” Mantha said Monday. “I think it’s been two, three weeks that I’ve been playing way better.”
And though things appear to be trending in the right direction, Mantha admitted that this season has been the “hardest” of his NHL career so far.
“It’s been the hardest being healthy,” he said. “Obviously there’s been tougher years (with injuries), but being healthy, it is really hard. Losing is the worst thing that can happen. It affects the whole team. We need to figure something out, and we’ve been saying it, saying it, saying it, but we need to really figure out something soon.
“I think we’re playing good, but we’re just losing to many games by one goal or we’re not scoring enough. We need to figure out how to change that quick.”
Head coach Jeff Blashill, who met with Mantha earlier this season to go over video, had good things to say about his power forward earlier today.
“There’s very few players in the league that have the talent to drive lines. When he’s on his game and he’s using that skillset he has, he can really drive a line,” Blashill said Monday. “When he’s really on his game, he’s moving his feet.”
Of course, Mantha noticed Blashill's praise in terms of his ice time.
“It shows in the time of ice,” Mantha said. “Blash sees it right away and he uses me way more.”
Mantha and the Red Wings will have the chance to get back into the win column tomorrow night against the Carolina Hurricanes.
– – Quotes via Will Burchfield of Radio.com Link – –