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Anthony Mantha determined to become more consistent

Henrik Zetterberg taught young sniper that a two-way game leads to success

by Arthur J.Regner @arthurjregner / DetroitRedWings.com

DETROIT- Statistically speaking, Anthony Mantha had a pretty good rookie campaign.

Called up from Grand Rapids on November 11, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound right wing appeared in 60 games for the Red Wings before he was sidelined for the Wings' final five contests with a fractured finger he suffered in a fight with the Tampa Bay Lightning's Luke Witkowski on March 30 in Tampa.

  

 

Mantha finished the year tied for sixth in total points on the Red Wings with 36, his 17 goals were tied for third on the team, he was second on the Wings with a plus-10, was third in penalty minutes with 53 and his three game-winning goals were tied for third on the club.

He also finished 12th in overall rookie scoring in the NHL and finished in or near the top 10 in every major rookie category, which was impressive considering the number of total games played.

As his rookie season progressed, Mantha hit a snag and was a healthy scratch for two consecutive games, March 10 against the Blackhawks and March 12 versus the Rangers.

It was an eye-opener for him, but he understands the message head coach Jeff Blashill was sending. You show up for every game or your lineup spot is in serious jeopardy.

That's a message and lesson Mantha started learning from observing the daily routine of Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg.

"I just know the way I play, I know my best games, I know what they are, I know my bad games," Mantha said. "For me, it's just something I need to focus on and always have good or great games.

"This year, I watched Zetterberg practice and play and he's always at the same level. He's always competing, even in practices. So I'll try to get that mentality in for next year."

Like his teammates, Mantha is extremely disappointed that the Wings' playoff streak has ended, but he has great resolve to make sure a pattern isn't developing.

"It's a terrible feeling to break the streak but we obviously didn't have the season we wanted," Mantha said. "We just need to come next year with better preparation and have a better year.

"We've been in playoffs for 25 years. We don't want to make two years out. We want to be back in. We want to be able to say we made 26 out of 27 years. That's our focus for this summer and next season."

The Wings had a team meeting on Tuesday after they took their last team photograph at Joe Louis Arena. It was a meeting where players and staff shared what they need to do during the offseason as individuals and next season as a team to again qualify for postseason play.

From Mantha's standpoint, he wants to become stronger and find more consistency in his game.

"Just little details," Mantha answered when asked what he must improve upon to raise his level of play. "Like I mentioned earlier in the season, not to have a 5-6 game slump for myself and try to reduce that to maybe one game or two in a row is my goal for next year; helping the team win every single night and not just being present a game out of four.

"I'll go back in the gym and try to put on a little bit more weight, probably take a few power skating lessons this summer, just try to be quicker out there, more mobile."

Despite having a fractured finger which didn't require surgery, Mantha believes the injured finger will not impede his offseason workouts.

He was encouraged by his season and believes the Wings youngsters are primed to improve their game, but he is realistic when he assesses his first full NHL season.

"Probably a learning process," Mantha said. "The ups and downs that we faced this season as a team; it was a lot of downs. We learned from those and we'll be ready for next year to be better on those points.

"We want to come back next season and be a great team. We want to make the playoffs; we want to be a leading team, not a team that's trying to catch up to make the playoffs next year."

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