from Emily Kaplan of ESPN,
Anthony Mantha was accustomed to hating this time of year.
The 26-year-old, a 2013 first-round pick of the Red Wings, became a regular for Detroit in 2016-17 -- right after the franchise's NHL record streak of 25 consecutive playoff appearances ended. The Red Wings entered a rebuild, with no end in sight. Finishing toward the bottom of the standings year after year became a grind.
"It sucks," Mantha said. "You're playing hockey because you want to play in the playoffs. And when you don't have the chance, and you just pack every summer to go back home, and you're like, 'I'll just take two weeks off and start training again.' I mean, there's no motivation in that."...
And because it's the Capitals -- who have missed the postseason just once in the past 14 years, and will be vying for championships as long as Alex Ovechkin is on the roster -- it meant a chance to experience the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time.
Asked what he wants fans in Washington to know about him, Mantha replied: "I want them to know that I can be a difference-maker."