It looks like we should expect to see a fair amount of ice time for Anthony Mantha in his NHL debut this evening, as he skated on a line with Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Tatar at the morning skate.
Mantha, who has 21 goals and 45 points with the Grand Rapids Griffins, offers a big-body dimension to the Red Wings’ offense, at six-feet five-inches tall and just over 200 pounds.
Offense has always been the name of the game for Mantha. He scored more than 50 goals in two seasons while playing in juniors, but was a little snake-bitten in his first year with Grand Rapids last season. After suffering a broken leg during the Red Wings prospect tournament, he would miss 20 games in his rookie season, and finish the season with 33 points. Red Wings senior vice president Jim Devellano went on to say that Mantha’s first professional season was “very, very, very disappointing”.
Mantha has been a different player this year, however. “We’re starting to see him pressure guys on the back-check, strip pucks and go the other way,” head coach Todd Nelson told the Detroit News.
Tonight’s game with the Philadelphia Flyers is an extremely important one for the Red Wings. Detroit holds a three-point lead over Philadelphia for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, while the Flyers have two games in hand.