Game Day Updates
First up, we’ve got a bit more context on Mantha being bumped from the top line and replaced on the power play in practice yesterday.
Blashill said Mantha is questionable tonight due to nagging injury. #RedWings— Ansar Khan (@AnsarKhanMLive) December 29, 2017
1. Athanasiou and Mantha against the Rangers
If the Red Wings want to win tonight they need Athanasiou and Mantha to show up again. Mantha was red-hot to start the year, as he racked up 22 points in 27 games. Since then, aka the month of December, he has just 2 points in his last 10 games. As far as Athanasiou, he seems focused on just getting out of town after this year. While he is averaging almost 15:00 minutes of ice time a night, he only has 12 points in 26 games and just doesn’t seem to be the same player as he was a year ago. We all want the young guns to see more ice time, but it’s time for them to start earning it.
2. Rangers top line vs. the Red Wings D
Nash-Zibanejad-Zuccarello have been the biggest bright spot for the NHL’s 6th best scoring offense. While Rick Nash may not be what he used to be, both Zuccarello and Zibanejad are on pace to having career years. It doesn’t really matter who the Red Wings throw out there against this line, they just need to be effective. If you stop the Rangers top line, you have a very good chance of ending this 3-game losing streak.
3. 2nd Line battle
Not only do I expect to see Tatar-Larkin-Mantha (until Blashill changes the lines midway through the 1st Period) go up against Vesey-Desharnais-Buchnevich, but I think it’s going to be a great matchup as well. Not only are the lines similar, each carrying two young potential stars and a veteran scorer, but whichever line gets hot could very easily determine who wins the game. I expect Larkin and Mantha to work well together, but don’t be surprised if the blue shirts 2nd line is up to the challenge.