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Why The Brad Richards/Anthony Mantha Switch?

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Mantha skated with Luke Glendening and Andreas Athanasiou in practice Thursday while Richards was bumped up to the line with Pavel Datsyuk and Darren Helm.

"Just looking at different line combinations," Blashill said. "The one thing that Richie has done, he's been through lots in his career, including as recently as last year (won Stanley Cup with Chicago), when the game's in the third period, he certainly knows how to chip pucks out, chip pucks in and still make plays when the plays are there to be made."

But Blashill said it's not just Richards' defensive awareness that would prompt the switch.

"First of all, he's got lots of points in this league, he's been a good offensive player for a long time," Blashill said. "If anybody watched the (Cup) finals last year, I don't know if you remember that slap pass he made that kind of guaranteed a win for Chicago, so he's got lots of offense in him.

"I think, (he) has been through lots of experiences when the pressure's on. ... Just like in the playoffs there's lots of pressure, he keeps a cool head and makes, I think, good decisions. We'll see."

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Comments

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PierreC's avatar

i can’t believe i’m reading this.

In the last 10 games AT LEAST Richards simply hasn’t been able to follow the parade. Doesn’t show any grit/intensity nor skating ability, just like he doesn’t care.
Looking at him i just can’t believe he use to earn 8mil a year.

The Wings want to tank ..that’s all there is to this move.

Posted by PierreC from Montreal, Canada on 03/31/16 at 01:52 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

If you’re upset at these lines you probably won’t have to wait long for them to switch up, given recent games.  That’s ok with me as long as there is some logic the coach has behind it.  Zetterberg and Kronwall used to say that Babcock saw things on the ice that no one else picked up on.  Hope Blash isn’t just randomly throwing things at the wall to see what sticks.

Posted by RWBill on 03/31/16 at 01:52 PM ET

PierreC's avatar

it would have been more acceptable if the switch would have been made with Tats or Gus on the 3rd line…

Posted by PierreC from Montreal, Canada on 03/31/16 at 01:53 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

The Wings want to tank ..that’s all there is to this move.
Posted by PierreC from Montreal, Canada on 03/31/16 at 01:52 PM ET

That makes even less sense than Mantha-to-4th line.

Posted by RWBill on 03/31/16 at 01:54 PM ET

PierreC's avatar

The Wings want to tank ..that’s all there is to this move.
Posted by PierreC from Montreal, Canada on 03/31/16 at 01:52 PM ET
That makes even less sense than Mantha-to-4th line.
Posted by RWBill from lead guitarist for The Pompous Dicks. on 03/31/16 at 01:54 PM ET

Yeah..but it could be non intentionnal. Just like hanging to Kroner when he just can’t move anymore Smith

Sometimes its the same result !


We are simply not use to this kind of “decision making” by the head coach.

Posted by PierreC from Montreal, Canada on 03/31/16 at 02:00 PM ET

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So Richards is in the top six because of his pass on the insurance goal in game 6?

If you’re upset at these lines you probably won’t have to wait long for them to switch up, given recent games.

Depends, he’s Babcockian in his stubbornness with keeping Nyquist and Tatar together, so there’s probably equal chance that he swaps them out after two shifts or keeps them together for the rest of his tenure as head coach.

Posted by Garth on 03/31/16 at 02:01 PM ET

PierreC's avatar

the only reason for that…a vet like Richards shouldnt play on the 4th line. Complaints might have come from various sources, maybe Richards himself, maybe the GM.

But it still doesn’t make any sense.

I believe Guy Boucher is available…and he’d give his left kidney just to coach the Wings..and no one would tell him what to do !

Posted by PierreC from Montreal, Canada on 03/31/16 at 02:12 PM ET

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“Just looking at different line combinations,” Blashill said

Apparently he is not aware of the production he is getting from his 3rd line.

Posted by VPalmer on 03/31/16 at 02:24 PM ET

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a vet like Richards shouldnt play on the 4th line

I actually agree that Richards should not play on a 4th line. Not because he is a vet, but because he does not bring anything to that line. Our 4th line should be Helm/Sheahan/Glen, that’s your starting point and then you can mix and match the other 9 forwards any way you want until you see some positive results. Just too bad we only have 5 games left.

Posted by VPalmer on 03/31/16 at 02:26 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

We are simply not use to this kind of “decision making” by the head coach.

Posted by PierreC from Montreal, Canada on 03/31/16 at 02:00 PM ET

In the brevity of my response I agree there have been some head scratchers.

Posted by RWBill on 03/31/16 at 02:30 PM ET

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Blashill really is a special kind of stupid in my opinion.

Posted by benzanato on 03/31/16 at 03:00 PM ET

alfrules's avatar

The Vet gets the nod.

Posted by alfrules on 03/31/16 at 03:02 PM ET

SnarkinLarkin's avatar

I’m wit VPalmer on the Helm/Sheahan/Glen line - except with Glen at center. That line played really well earlier in the season.

Posted by SnarkinLarkin on 03/31/16 at 03:09 PM ET

MOWingsfan19's avatar

Wonder if Blash has been in constant contact with his BFF in TOR all season?

Posted by MOWingsfan19 from I really like our team on 03/31/16 at 03:09 PM ET

Primis's avatar

And now, to top this all off, apparently Wings beat writers are blocking fans on Twitter that are asking them to ask more, harder-hitting questions on all of this.

Fans call for accountability, and the Diggers respond by clasping their hands to their ears and screaming “LALALALALALALA!”

The Wings are incredibly Fan Unfriendly and have been for some time now.  If not being outright lied to, fans are just ignored.

Posted by Primis on 03/31/16 at 03:17 PM ET

IwoCPO's avatar

How anyone believes Darren Helm belongs anywhere but on a fourth line (notice I didn’t say “our” fourth line) is beyond me. Like IMO said above, Sheahan/Helm/Glendening as a checking line is the ONLY thing that should be certain right now.

I like this team.

Posted by IwoCPO from Sunny San Diego, bitches on 03/31/16 at 03:20 PM ET

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I personally believe if something along the similar to this was deployed all season, we’d be in a different state.

Abby, Z, Nike
Larkin, Dats, AA/Mantha
Tats, Sheahan, Jurcs
Miller, Helm, Richards/AA/Ferraro/Glenn

And their TOI was also done correctly. In fact I’m just a fan but I feel very very very confident this team would be fighting for no.1 spot not a wildcard spot

On and defense
DDK/Quincy
Kron/March
Green/Smith.
Rotating either Jensen or Sproul to see if they’re actually worthy.

I’m just an armchair Internet GM rosterbating so what do I know?

Posted by benzanato on 03/31/16 at 03:20 PM ET

Kate from PA now in SC-made in Detroit's avatar

So Richards is in the top six because of his pass on the insurance goal in game 6?


That was my reaction too.

Lets Go Red Wings!!!!!

Posted by Kate from PA now in SC-made in Detroit on 03/31/16 at 03:21 PM ET

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I’m wit VPalmer on the Helm/Sheahan/Glen line - except with Glen at center.

Yes, I did not mean Sheahan at center, I just put them in random order. But yes, Glen at center.

Posted by VPalmer on 03/31/16 at 03:21 PM ET

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No.1 in our division not league wise. Just to clarify

Posted by benzanato on 03/31/16 at 03:21 PM ET

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Posted by benzanato on 03/31/16 at 03:20 PM ET

Agree with you completely, have been advocating Sheahan/Tatar/Jurco line the whole season because we just know they play well together.

Posted by VPalmer on 03/31/16 at 03:41 PM ET

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It’s was an amazing line, will never understand why it is never deployed. I do know this our loyalty to veterans is the largest weakness to the team.

Posted by benzanato on 03/31/16 at 03:57 PM ET

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And if I were the coach the past month would’ve involved probably 8 or 9 bag skates not days off.

Posted by benzanato on 03/31/16 at 03:58 PM ET

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It’s was an amazing line, will never understand why it is never deployed.

Babcock’s syndrom: if a line is working, time to separate them to see if those players can help other lines. The problem is sometimes lines are working because all 3 guys are a good match.

Posted by VPalmer on 03/31/16 at 03:59 PM ET

SnarkinLarkin's avatar

And what happened to…“We’re not going to bring Mantha up unless he’s ready to play on the top 2 lines?”

Posted by SnarkinLarkin on 03/31/16 at 04:09 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

Let’s hope he can capitalize on the slap pass.  Richie is ok but Sweet Sassy Molassy, Mantha to 4th line.
He’ll still get PP, right ?
No firm thing that these lines will start the game, or something else get slapped together.

Posted by RWBill on 03/31/16 at 04:29 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

And what happened to…“We’re not going to bring Mantha up unless he’s ready to play on the top 2 lines?”

If they keep losing and don’t make any changes to the lineup, even just in practice, I don’t think anyone is going to be happy about it.

Posted by TreKronor on 03/31/16 at 05:38 PM ET

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Put Mantha on the top line.  Zetts and Richards should be 4th line with Glennie.  Blashill certainly has been a big disappointment.

Posted by jhpcarrier97 on 03/31/16 at 05:43 PM ET

Bill_H's avatar

And now, to top this all off, apparently Wings beat writers are blocking fans on Twitter that are asking them to ask more, harder-hitting questions on all of this.

I’m sorry to say that is the nature of this kind of technological environment.  Kind of like a “Letter to the Editor” section of your local newspaper; nothing is allowed except what those running the show approve of.

Posted by Bill_H on 03/31/16 at 05:54 PM ET

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I continue to believe that the team’s issues this season lay primarily with Blash, the players, and Holland a distant third - in that order (I know I’m in the minority on the Holland perspective).  My loss in faith in Blashill spawned following another lackadaisical performance by the team in an important game and an impotent PP several weeks back.  Since then the team and coach deserve credit from breathing life into the PP, however they do continue to come out flat.

I just don’t have the sense that the team is bought into the coaching system. 
The players are mature enough not to Crosby him, but their play lacks flow and inspiration.

Lastly, Blash seems so focused on executing in close one goal games that it has become inevitable - even if we’re up by four.  I consider this (Richards > Mantha) move virtual prophecy of more 1 goalers as that is where the coach’s head lives.  He wants the guy that can keep it close for a hopeful win rather than the guy that can help break the game open.

I hope he proves me wrong, and to be fair it is his first year, and he seems to have at least solved the PP, so far however I’m disappointed.

Posted by Ventr on 03/31/16 at 06:12 PM ET

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I actually think this is a great move. Gives AA and AM a speedy partner on the other wing and LG is a good defensive balance with speed to solidify the line. Real good thinking.

Posted by Zemi on 03/31/16 at 06:29 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Most of these issues have Holland’s fingerprints all over it, for a simple reason.

Ken Holland is one of the most respected GMs in the game, perhaps the most. He is also one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful. Many of the changes the game has gone through the last few years have come from the mind of Ken Holland.

The man wields enormous power in the NHL. It only serves to reason he wields even more power within the confines of the DRW organization, an organization with a rookie coach.

For the time being, this is the Ken Holland Show,and Blashill is just one pawn of many.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 03/31/16 at 06:33 PM ET

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This is exactly why I’ve totally soured on Friendly Babs.

Never have I seen a worse coach when it comes to line combos.  Granted, he wasn’t given an A+ roster to start with, but this is asinine.

So much of the fanbase is thinking Pulkkinen is a bust and it’s entirely due to Friendly Babs playing him down on the fourth line with Glendening.  Same with Jurco.  Helm doesn’t produce getting top line minutes?  No matter, he’ll never be sent down.  Now Mantha gets the same bullshit treatment and for what?  Playing well and producing.

And wasn’t Richards brought in to be a second or third line center?  Just like Weiss?  Why were neither of them even asked to play that role?

F’n organization has turned into a mess

Why don’t we try these lines next game?

Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Mantha
Tatar, Sheahan, Jurco
Nyquist, AA, Larkin
Abdelkader, Glendening, Helm

Posted by Wise1 on 03/31/16 at 07:15 PM ET

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Would make more sense to swap Helm to 4th line and put Brad with Pav & Mantha.

Posted by easmus on 03/31/16 at 07:31 PM ET

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There was a time when the Wings fourth line was place of honour. We all have mostly fond memories of the old Grind Line and a similar line that went out and hounded opponents’ D would be great for this group too.

Now, you are relegated to the fourth line, a kind of hockey purgatory in Hockeytown!  It is not the place for guys who have offensive capabilities but it is the new norm.

IMO, Helm, Luke G, and Riley S, would be a great fourth line with the speed and tenacity to attack, attack, attack! They would burn up valuable time in the opponents’ zone and tire them out if properly deployed. Sadly, that does;t happen and the coach is constantly putting square pegs into round holes!

Posted by NewfieWing on 03/31/16 at 08:18 PM ET

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Look all all these games all year, opposition corrects after the periods end and they completely stifle the wings to a point, they have no offense, defense lost to a point opposition continually takes puck away. Wings can’t even skate the puck ahead, resulting in shoot puck in from center essentially turning the puck over. Power plays that result in NO shots on goal or at least for us. I’d play AA-Larkin-Mantha on one line and definitely the minute it looked like we were going to have another zero shot Power Play.

Posted by stateofmifan on 04/01/16 at 01:03 AM ET

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In my earlier post about an AA-Larkin-Mantha line, especially to try on power plays, was because their S%. These players shots have a good percentage of finding the back of the net especially AA who leads the team with a S% of 14.30. I’m not so sure we aren’t taking these high goal scoring kids and putting them out to learn some bad habits.

Posted by stateofmifan on 04/01/16 at 01:44 AM ET

Colin's avatar

I could sit here and rage for a long time about this. I could bring up the “Top 6 or Bust” theory behind bringing Mantha up. I could bring up how Mantha is IMO, solely responsible for the restoration of our PP into anything remotely effective. I could talk about how Mantha is the only player on this roster that defensemen will play off of on the boards in the offensive zone, whereas pretty much everyone else gets immediately hounded, hit, and turns the puck over. I could bring up that what Pav’s line really needs is AA, who has been our best forward by all metrics since he came up and still miraculously is buried on the 4th line.

I could also pick apart Blashill’s justification like this too:

The one thing that Richie has done, he’s been through lots in his career, including as recently as last year (won Stanley Cup with Chicago), when the game’s in the third period, he certainly knows how to chip pucks out, chip pucks in and still make plays when the plays are there to be made.

—Because when the game gets fast and physical, the best move is to put a 35+ in his twilight years on the top line because he can play dump and chase really well, and if we’re lucky enough to check the puck off the defender’s stick (LOL), he can make a pass to stone hands Helm for a shot to the chest. Pavel Datsyuk is the most creative and skilled forward in the NHL still. Building his line based on defensive acumen is a complete waste of Pav’s skill set, but go on Blash, sell the move to me:

First of all, he’s got lots of points in this league, he’s been a good offensive player for a long time. If anybody watched the (Cup) finals last year, I don’t know if you remember that slap pass he made that kind of guaranteed a win for Chicago, so he’s got lots of offense in him.

—So you open with saying that Richards has a lot of points in this league (929) which is actually damn good. HOWEVER he was bought out for a reason, and has failed to even match his 4 year performance in Dallas (227pts) in the 5 seasons he’s played to date (213pts). Then you go on to mention his insurance-goal assist with Chicago (a much better team than ours) in the playoffs last year. Sure it was a great play, but what about the rest of the playoffs? Ya know, since we’re basically in playoff mode right now… Well let’s see. He was heavily sheltered with a 78.1% oZone start percentage, had a -7.4% Corsi Relative, and a -7% Fenwick Relative. Sure he scored 14pts. But is he really that good of a player for the team based on those stats? Especially a top-liner? I don’t think so.

I think, (he) has been through lots of experiences when the pressure’s on. ... Just like in the playoffs there’s lots of pressure, he keeps a cool head and makes, I think, good decisions. We’ll see.

—And there it is. “I think” appears twice, followed by a strong “We’ll see”. Powerful vote of confidence from the HC that is either floundering or trying to justify a move he doesn’t agree with, but Kenny probably wanted to happen. The 43-13-39 line has been our best since it was put together. Why he hasn’t tried making changes to the 8-40-71 or 21-15-14 line is completely beyond me. The 8-40-71 line has been largely ineffective of late. If you really want to shake things up Blash, I’ll do it for you:

71-13-39 -> The best line gets much better
72-40-14 -> Z needs someone who can skate to carry it in
17-15-21 -> Better balance for the 3rd line, and Richards still gets a “promotion” of sorts
43-41-08 -> This line can really put a hurtin’ on

Posted by Colin from Ken Holland's new yacht, "Incompetence" on 04/01/16 at 09:31 AM ET

NIVO's avatar

I pretty much do not give a damn who’s on what line at this point. We need goals and points, dont care how, just do it.  We are chasing Boston for a playoff spot, Philly means jack squat. 5 games to go, we need to get 2 more points than Boston to get in.

Posted by NIVO from underpants gnome village on 04/01/16 at 09:50 AM ET

PierreC's avatar

I pretty much do not give a damn who’s on what line at this point. We need goals and points, dont care how, just do it.  We are chasing Boston for a playoff spot, Philly means jack squat. 5 games to go, we need to get 2 more points than Boston to get in.

Posted by NIVO from underpants gnome village on 04/01/16 at 09:50 AM

We win our remaining 5 games and we are in…easy !
So we control our destiny..right ?

Posted by PierreC from Montreal, Canada on 04/01/16 at 09:59 AM ET

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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.