Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Maple Leafs game-day articles: On Mantha’s ‘dry spell,’ the ‘stacked’ Leafs and more

Updated 3x at 1:20 PM: The Detroit Red Wings host the Toronto Maple Leafs this evening (7:30 PM on FSD/TSN4/97.1 FM), and after the Wings' morning skate (Toronto did not hold a morning skate after losing 2-0 to the Minnesota Wild last night), it appears that Detroit will go with its usual lineup tonight...

And the first article to hit the wires from today's morning skate comes from the Free Press's Helene St. James, who discussed Anthony Mantha's "dry spell":

He’s generating scoring chances regularly, sticking to doing the right things even as the results hadn’t been coming. After scoring at a consistent pace the first two months of the season, Mantha hasn't had a point for five games as the Wings prepared to host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday at Little Caesars Arena.

“I need to keep working hard and keep building chances for myself,” Mantha said after the morning skate. “Last game I had six shots. It’s a matter of time before they go in. I don’t think I’m playing bad. I’m having a couple chances, our line is having chances.”

Mantha’s dry spell reflects that of the Wings as a whole. They've scored a combined four goals in the four games prior to Friday. Mantha had taken 13 shots during that stretch, and is confident he’d soon be back scoring.

“I’ve been watching clips,” he said. “I am trying to get better every day. It’s a little bit of a dry spell, but once one goes in, it should be a bunch from there.”

It speaks to how well Mantha, 23, has played overall.  He has a team-leading 12 goals after 31 games, and is ranked second on the team in scoring with 22 points. He and linemates Dylan Larkin and Tomas Tatar are creating chances, and just need to finish a little better.

“The more we keep shooting and the more we are skating and creating chances, it’s going to come eventually,” Larkin said. “The most frustrating part is that the team is not doing well, and when you are not scoring and the team is winning, it makes it worse. You want to help the team win, and we all want to be goal scorers. You look at yourself and bury your chances and help the team win.”

St. James continues, and she posted a video of Mantha, Larkin and Blashill's comments:

The Wings posted a clip of Mantha's remarks as well:

MLive's Ansar Khan also posted a morning skate report, addressing the fact that the Leafs are "stacked" even though Auston Matthews probably won't play tonight...

Toronto has five other players with more 20 or more points: Nazem Kadri (23), James van Riemsdyk (22), William Nylander (21), Morgan Reilly (21) and Mitch Marner (20). And long-time San Jose Shark Patrick Marleau has 11 goals and 18 points.

"They still have lots of dangerous players," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "I think they're one of the deepest teams up front in the league without question. Anytime you have a Mitch Marner spend time on the fourth line it tells you the type of depth you have up front.

"Auston Matthews is without question one of the best players in the league already, so certainly that's a big piece, but they're dangerous no matter what. They got guys like Marleau, who's been a career elite player in this league. I think Nylander is one of the best players in the league. They got a great forward group. We're going to have to make sure we're making them defend. If they have the puck lots and are attacking lots and get you on your heels, you're in trouble. We better get them on their feels with our forecheck pressure, much the same way we've played the last four games. We've done a good job of that."

But the Red Wings (11-13-7) don't have the results to show for it. They're lost two in a row in overtime and are 1-5-5 in their past 11. The Leafs are 20-12-1, but have lost two in a row, including Thursday at Minnesota (2-0).

The Red Wings are rested, but that hasn't proven to be an advantage. They are 1-3-3 against teams that played the night before - and only once in those situations did Detroit also play the night before (4-3 OT loss to New Jersey on Nov. 25).

"As I look around the league it really doesn't have any factor whatsoever, so let's make sure we play great hockey tonight regardless if they played yesterday," Blashill said.

Khan continues...

NHL.com's Dave Hogg also filed a neutral-perspective game preview:

The Game: The Toronto Maple Leafs are expected to be without center Auston Matthews for the fourth straight game when they visit the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Friday.

Matthews hasn't played since taking an accidental hit to the head from teammate Morgan Rielly late in the third period of a 4-3 win at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. The Maple Leafs have lost their past two games, including a 2-0 loss at the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.

Detroit is 0-1-2 in its past three games and 1-5-5 in its past 11. In each of their past two games, against the Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins, the Red Wings have taken a 1-0 lead into the third period and lost in overtime.

Players to watch: Toronto forward William Nylander has one point, an assist, in his past six games after getting six points (one goal, five assists) in a four-game point streak.

Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg has six points (one goal, five assists) in his past 10 games, and snapped a 22-game goal drought, the longest of his NHL career, in the loss to Florida on Monday.

They said it: "We had a lot of opportunities and a lot of good looks [against Minnesota]. I thought we did a lot of good things and played a good road game. We just have to execute our chances." -- Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock.

"We have to play like a desperate team after these last 10 or 11 games. We need to find a way to start scoring more goals and protecting leads when we get them." -- Red Wings center Dylan Larkin.

Update: FYI if you get the Leafs' broadcast:

Update #2: Among DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji's notes:

TROUBLE AGAINST DIVISION: With the Metropolitan Division once again proving to be stronger overall than the Atlantic Division, the Wings will likely need to claim one of the top three spots in order to make the playoffs. In order to do that, their 3-7-2 record in the Atlantic has to improve.

"Those are the important games obviously to be that top three in your division," Nyquist said. "We're chasing some teams there in the standings and so are teams below us, too. So these are big games for sure."

The Wings have not had much luck lately against the Leafs, who have won the last five games in the matchup and have won seven of the last 10.

"We know they have the talent up front," Mantha said. "They could score as many goals as any team in this league. We need to be ready. Our goalies need to be ready. I think we need to put them on their heels instead of them putting us on our heels and things will be going good."

PLAYING TIRED TEAMS: One would think that playing a team that is in the second game of a back-to-back would give the rested team the advantage. That has not been the case this season for the Wings, who are just 1-3-3 against teams that played the previous night.

"It hasn't been good enough for sure," Nyquist said. "We've talked about that. Just somehow it hasn't gone our way in those games and those are games that for sure you should have more energy than the other team and be able to get on them. Obviously we have another chance here tonight. They played Minnesota last night. And a big game for us again. Had two big games here this week, lost both in overtime and lost out on a couple points so this is another big opportunity for us."

The Leafs were shut out by the Wild, 2-0.

"We just need to be ready from the start," Mantha said. "We didn't play yesterday, they did. They'll be ready. I don't think they're going on this morning and you know they'll be ready for the game. For us, it's to play 60 minutes. It's a big game tonight and we need to get on a winning streak right here as soon as the puck drops."

Update #3: The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan filed a game-day notebook article:

For whatever reason, the Red Wings continue to have difficulties gaining home-ice advantage at LCA. They’ve gone 3-4-5 at their new rink during this homestand — and are a weak 5-6-6 for the entire season.

It’s somewhat similar to what happened last season, during the swan song at Joe Louis Arena. Almost around the same point of the schedule, the Red Wings had an opportunity to steady themselves with a good stretch of games at JLA, and the Red Wings didn’t capitalize. In fact, they ended the season an average 17-17-7 at JLA.

It may not get that much better this season, in their new home.

“We know it’s going to be tough to get these points back,” Tomas Tatar said. “But we’re here, and we can’t give up and we have to find a way to get these points back.”

After Friday night, the Red Wings play their next four games on the road, then enjoy another favorable home schedule in January (eight of 11 at home, sandwiched around a bye week and All-Star weekend). But then reality begins to hit.

They have eight of 14 games on the road in February, and a rugged 11 of 16 games away from LCA in March, when the arena is hosting the Horizon League basketball tournaments, as well as early round NCAA Tournament games.

Kulfan continues...

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

Avatar

I wonder if we will talk about Mantha’s dry spell like we’ve been talking about Hank’s.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 12/15/17 at 12:46 PM ET

Avatar

I wonder if we will talk about Mantha’s dry spell like we’ve been talking about Hank’s.

Well, Mantha’s dry spell is zero goals in five games while Zetterberg’s was zero goals in 22 games, and Mantha has more than twice as many goals as Zetterberg, so perhaps there’s a reason people aren’t talking about it yet.

Perhaps if Mantha hits double digits without a goal people might start talking about it as if it were in the same ballpark as 22 games without a goal.

Posted by CharDeeMacDennis on 12/15/17 at 01:05 PM ET

Avatar

Zee - goes 22 games without a goal and looked awful for most of that time. Sad end for him.

Larkin – just went 10 games without a goal. Finally scored in his 11th game. He’s on pace for 13 goals this year. Lots of assists. But just 13 goals.

Nielsen – 3 points in last 12 games. Minus 7 in those 12 games. On pace for just 32 points.

Helm – 4 points in last 14 games. Minus 6 in that stretch.

Nyquist – on pace for less than 40 points. Despite averaging more ice-time than any other season in his career.

Tatar – also on pace for less than 40 points.

Green – 1 point in his last 12 games. Minus 9 in that stretch. Apparently increasing his trade value – LOL!

Abby – lots of praise about his “bounce-back” year. On pace for 49 points. That’s great. Seriously it is. But why no mention that he just has 5 goals? On pace for 13 goals!! Guy plays on our #1 line and #1 PP unit and has 5 goals. Brutal!!

Not many articles about them. But let’s pen something about how Mantha is ice-cold. Classic HSJ!

Posted by fatsavage on 12/15/17 at 01:11 PM ET

Slumpy's avatar

If we can play without errorson, ddk and Kronwall then I like our chances tonight.

Nyquist – on pace for less than 40 points. Despite averaging more ice-time than any other season in his career.
Tatar – also on pace for less than 40 points.
Green – 1 point in his last 12 games. Minus 9 in that stretch. Apparently increasing his trade value – LOL!

Two of them need to be traded by the deadline coming up. I would keep Tatar.

Posted by Slumpy from Under My Wheels on 12/15/17 at 01:22 PM ET

PierreC's avatar

Same lines game after game…but i understand it. We score so many goal, why make any changes ??

Posted by PierreC from Montreal, Canada on 12/15/17 at 01:43 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

We better get them on their feels with our forecheck pressure, much the same way we’ve played the last four games.

I wonder if that was a typo, or if this is Blash’s new tactic - to try to beat them emotionally.

Posted by TreKronor on 12/15/17 at 02:34 PM ET

Avatar

I wonder if that was a typo, or if this is Blash’s new tactic - to try to beat them emotionally.

LOL. Good catch.

Posted by Ilovekermit on 12/15/17 at 02:57 PM ET

Avatar

If we can play without errorson, ddk and Kronwall then I like our chances tonight.

E has been possibly our best dman so far this season imo

Posted by VPalmer on 12/15/17 at 02:57 PM ET

Colin's avatar

Nielsen – 3 points in last 12 games. Minus 7 in those 12 games. On pace for just 32 points.

Posted by fatsavage on 12/15/17 at 01:11 PM ET

I wonder how many games he’s been stuck with that matchup line?

Posted by Colin from Ken Holland's new yacht, "Incompetence" on 12/15/17 at 03:31 PM ET

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.

Smileys

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Feed

Most Recent Blog Posts

About The Malik Report

The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.

 

Recommended Sportsbook
MyBookie.ag