Is Detroit Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha setting himself up for a breakout 2019-20?
Mantha recorded his third straight multi-point game Thursday as he helped Canada top France, 5-2, at the World Championship. Mantha has five goals and four assists in four games, and while his points have come against the French, Great Britain and Slovakia, he is producing (Wings teammate and fellow Canadian Tyler Bertuzzi is still looking for his first point of the tournament).
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Mantha’s productivity at the Worlds continues how strongly he finished with the Wings: He led the team with eight goals and seven assists the last eight games of the season.
It may bode well for next season. Two years ago, Dylan Larkin had a strong finish to 2016-17 after struggling through much of what was his second NHL season. He had 13 points his last 21 games, looked comfortable playing in the center role, and gained confidence.
He took that with him to the 2017 World Championship, producing 10 points in eight games while developing a strong relationship with Jeff Blashill in his first stint as head coach at Worlds.
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What Larkin did in spring of 2017 paid off in 2017-18 as he set a career high of 47 assists and, with 63 points, nearly doubling the 32 points he’d had the previous season.
Larkin talked at the time of how much it benefited him to be a go-to guy at the World Championship, where he went against opposing top players and was used in key situations (such as the last minute of the quarterfinal loss to Finland).
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Maybe having a good 2019 tournament can similarly boost Mantha’s confidence. The 24-year-old scored 25 goals last season among 48 points, limited to 67 games after hurting himself fighting. His 0.72 points-per-game average ranked second on the Wings only to Larkin’s 0.96.
Remember what Thomas Vanek said about Mantha last October: That Mantha can become a power forward if he understands he has that capability.
“I don’t think he believes in himself as much as he should,” Vanek said. “I don’t think he realizes how strong he is. I think once he figures that part out, then the game will come easier for him.”
It can’t hurt, anyway, that Mantha is dominating in his first go at the World Championship.
Canada next plays Germany (Saturday) and Denmark (Monday) before Tuesday’s showdown with the U.S., which features Larkin and Luke Glendening, head coach Blashill and assistant coach Dan Bylsma.
Contact Helene St. James at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter.
Published at Thu, 16 May 2019 18:21:18 +0000