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Notes: Mantha welcomes pressure of being top player for Wings

Wilson practices, likely to play; Frk skates again

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji / DetroitRedWings.com

DETROIT -- Anthony Mantha is critical to the Red Wings' success.

So if Mantha isn't performing well, that's likely to be the case for the team.

That is why Wings coach Jeff Blashill called Mantha out by name after the Wings' 6-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers Wednesday night.

"The one thing with Anthony is, I've told him this, that for us to be great, I think he's got to be great," Blashill said. "That comes with lots of responsibility. That comes with pressure. If I didn't think he was good enough to be a great player, I wouldn't do it. I didn't think he was good enough to be a big impact on our team I wouldn't do it. But I think he's all those things.

"Sometimes as a young player you have to be reminded how hard you to have to play in order to be great and the impact that you have when you don't. He played almost 19 minutes last night and a lot of roles and his impact is going to have a huge impact on our success and because of the minutes he's given, I just felt he needed to be reminded that that comes with great, great responsibility."

Mantha has not had a point in the last three games. He had two goals and an assist on Nov. 15 in the win over the Calgary Flames.

"Obviously, it's not fun hearing those (comments) but it happens," Mantha said. "I know that my game is not really where I want it to be the last three games. I think my last good game was against Calgary and after that I think I'm just floating around a little bit too much."

Blashill said he met with Mantha before Thursday's practice and asked him if wanted the pressure and responsibility that comes with lots of ice time.

Mantha told him yes, he wanted that pressure.

"For sure. You want to play in the NHL and then you want to be an impact player," Mantha said. "So like he told me again this morning, he's giving me a chance and I need to step in and take that chance and be the best player I can be."

Mantha has 19 points, second on the team to Dylan Larkin's 20. Mantha's 10 goals are four more than any other Wing.

"It's just one of those things that it's important," Blashill said. "Sometimes as a person you have to be slapped in the face a little bit to make sure you get the understanding and I want to make sure that he in particular understands the responsibility that comes with these minutes he's been given."

This is not the first time that Blashill has challenged Mantha.

Last season Blashill made Mantha a healthy scratch for two games last March.

Although Mantha didn't score immediately after returning to the lineup, Blashill felt that his effort and compete level were where they needed to be.

"If I play my game I could be an impact player," Mantha said. "I've shown it this year a couple times and when I don't move my feet, when I'm not involved in the plays, I have a blank scoresheet. I happened a couple times lately, so I need to step up tomorrow."

WILSON COULD GO: Scott Wilson left Wednesday night's game in the second period after blocking Yohann Auvitu's shot at 10:20.

The Wings announced in the third period that Wilson had a lower-body injury and would not return to the game.

Wilson did participate in the Thanksgiving Day practice at the BELFOR Training Center at Little Caesars Arena.

"I think he's going to be available tomorrow, but I'll know more on that tomorrow," Blashill said. "He went through practice. I'll check and make sure. We're like everybody else, little bit of nicks and bruises but I think everyone is going to be able to play."

FRK UPDATE: Martin Frk did not practice with the team but he did skate for the third straight day.

"It was just basic, more like strides, not stop and starts yet," Frk said. "They don't want to push it. So just crossovers. So far so good. Hopefully it stays that way because it sucks to be out. It's painful to watch."

Frk is hopeful that things will continue to go well and he'll be able to practice with the team Monday.

"I think I need for sure couple, at least two, three days with the team for practice," Frk said. "It depends how I feel, too. We go from there. I'm not sure exactly when I will play but the goal is to go Monday with the team skate."

Frk said he would love to be able to play Thursday at home against the Montreal Canadiens but feels it is more realistic to aim for Dec. 2 at Montreal.

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