Anthony Mantha‘s first full season with the Washington Capitals last year was derailed almost immediately by a serious shoulder injury that required surgery. The procedure kept him out of action for months. With a healthy start to this season and long-term injuries to forwards Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson, Mantha is aware that he must make an impact early and often for the Caps.
And so far, so good.
The big winger has potted two goals in the team’s first three games and even got into just his second fight as a member of the Caps on Saturday.
“My goal is to have a good year,” Mantha said. “I had a slow start tonight in the first period. I just had to wake up in the second and the third. I think I helped the team win.”
Mantha credited his hot start to his newfound fatherhood. He and his fiancee Caitlyn Duffy became first-time parents during the preseason and welcomed Naomie Mae to the family.
“I guess it’s a new strength,” Mantha said. “Ten days old.”
Two goals in three games that's that new DAD STRENGTH! pic.twitter.com/34VyXXwKWk
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 16, 2022
For Saturday night’s game against the Habs, the Quebec native was slotted on the second line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and TJ Oshie. Oshie, who also scored in the victory, talked about the importance of Mantha to the team’s future success.
“I think it’d be huge for us,” Oshie said of having Mantha in the lineup all year. “Mo is such a presence on the ice and if he stays healthy I expect him to be on that scoresheet quite a bit. He’s a big player for our team and really helps us with having some size up front, especially with Tommy out of the lineup, and helps us out with skill with Nick being out. He’s a big part of our team and when he’s healthy he’s going for us.”
When Mantha is truly on, he is shooting the puck a lot. Through the first three games of the season, Mantha (11) trails only Marcus Johansson and Dmitry Orlov (12) in five-on-five individual shot attempts. He is tied with Johansson for the team lead in individual scoring chances (7) and tied with Aliaksei Protas for the team lead in individual high-danger chances (4).
“We need him going and moving, bringing pucks to the net like he did,” head coach Peter Laviolette said. “Wiggling into areas. He got more physical as the game went on, and that was good.”
Mantha now has 33 points (15g, 18a) in 54 games since being dealt to DC by the Detroit Red Wings in a trade for Jakub Vrana while V has 32 points (22g, 10a) in 39 games.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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