Washington Capitals forward Anthony Mantha shed the light blue no-contact jersey he has been sporting in recent days at practice on Wednesday. The big winger has been out of the Capitals lineup since he took a deflected shot to the head in a game last week.
Now that Mantha is close to a return, he has revealed more details about the exact nature of the injury. The shot ruptured Mantha’s left ear drum.
“As soon as you get a puck to the face you kind-of want to get up, especially if there’s blood, and go straight to the bench, but I was so unbalanced and dizzy that in the moment I didn’t feel like getting up,” Mantha said after practice. “I probably would’ve fell back over, you know?”
Mantha lost hearing in the impacted ear for almost a full week and that it is only just now starting to come back. The injury also required 4-5 stitches and affected his equilibrium, giving him balance issues.
“We took our time,” Mantha said. “[Jason Serbus] jumped on the ice pretty quick and then got stitched up, and went to the hospital, did the scans and everything that night to make sure there was no bleeding or fracture or anything. From there, it was just kinda rest a little bit.”
The first thing he says that ran through his head once the puck hit him was John Carlson’s scary injury from last season. Carlson fractured his skull and severed his temporal artery after taking a slap shot to the head.
“We saw firsthand what happened to Johnny last year, so, that kind of goes through your head and you kind of start worrying about everything,” Mantha said. “But, we did all the CT scans and everything’s clear right now. No concussion, no nothing, so I was able to get back at it in the gym the last couple of days and full practice with the team today, so it felt good.”
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Mantha says that his hearing-related problems will not prevent him from getting back into games, even if they persist for a longer amount of time. The balance issues and dizziness have already completely subsided.
The 29-year-old has not played since that November 8 outing against the Panthers, where he had scored two goals before being forced off of the ice. The Capitals placed him on injured reserve days after the injury, making him eligible to return for Saturday’s home matchup with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“The body feels good,” Mantha said. “It’s not long enough for it to feel out of shape or anything like that, so I felt good out there. Obviously, it gives us a couple extra days before the next game, so we can keep working hard and be ready for next game, maybe.”
Mantha has four points (3g, 1a) through 10 games this season.
The Capitals are currently carrying 22 players on their active roster and have six players either on IR or LTIR. With Mantha and defensemen Trevor van Riemsdyk and Joel Edmundson all nearing returns, some roster decisions will need to be made in the coming days.
Hendrix Lapierre, Hardy Haman Aktell, and Aliaksei Protas are the three most obvious names that could make their way to the AHL’s Hershey Bears to make room in the 23-man group as they are waivers exempt. Nicolas Aube-Kubel could also be freely returned to Hershey without waivers, as he has not been on the NHL roster for a cumulative 30 days or played in 10 NHL games since he last cleared.
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