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Key Play Breakdown: Anthony Mantha Scores a Goal that Counts

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NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Detroit Red Wings
Nov 19, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings right wing Anthony Mantha (39) skates with the puck in the second period against the Colorado Avalanche at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Oh happy day, I get to break down a Red Wings goal in a win. Detroit felled Dallas 4-2 on Sunday to earn their first win at home before October ended. Here’s the goal for Anthony Mantha, his second of the game (and first that actually counted):

The Setup

The sequence starts more than a minute before the goal as Mike Green feeds Dylan Larkin up the wing to enter the Stars’ zone with speed. Green joins in to support Larkin with Helm while Glendening changes for Mantha. This starts a sequence of good forechecking and pressure in the Stars’ zone, the best chance coming from a cross-ice pass from Larkin to Green in which the D-man’s shot misses the net. From that miss, Green gets off for Daley while Kronwall changes for Ericsson. Larkin has his stick broken by a slash that relieves enough pressure for the Stars to clear the zone, but it doesn’t get all the way down. Jonathan Ericsson picks it up and cycles back at his own blue line to start the play back the right way with an attempted pass to Daley.

Riggy’s pass is knocked down at center by Justin Dowling, but he can’t control it, allowing Anthony Mantha to pick it up and turn to make a pass to Luke Glendening to enter the zone flanked by Gustav Nyquist, both fresh off the bench for Larkin and Helm. Luke passes it over to Goose on the left wing side for a hop into the faceoff circle and a shot from just outside the dot that a backchecking Val Nichushkin weakens/redirects with a good stick check.

The puck goes behind the net and bounces out the other side where Mantha, following the play and draped by Esa Lindell, is able to get to it first and throw it to the open area in the middle of the ice. This allows Mike Green to step into it off his brief rest on the bench and blast a shot that misses just wide.

The Finish

The shot misses, but bounces right to Nyquist on the doorstep and freezes bishop in his butterfly. Nyquist threatens to try and bounce it in off the goalie from behind the line or pass out front, so Bishop immediately hugs his post while Goose slides farther behind the net. When he clears the other side, he finds Anthony Mantha alone on the doorstep and feeds him the puck for a quick shot through the five-hole of a hopelessly-defending Lindell.

Credit Where Credit is Due

This is a good way to finish a two-shift sequence by the Wings to put pressure on the Stars and take advantage of having worn them down. Even though Larkin and Helm have changed by the time the goal is scored, the work they do on the prior shift to keep control is quite good. I especially like Larkin’s hustle throughout, as he appears all over the ice supporting where needed and not taking big risks on low-percentage plays.

Nyquist gets the primary assist on a smart play too. His overall involvement isn’t all that great and what he does is essentially automatic, but it can’t be overlooked that the threat he gives Bishop to freeze the goalie to one side before making a perfect pass on the other side of the goal are all key elements of this play’s success.

While we’re on the topic of good positioning that should be automatic, but isn’t always, make sure to watch that loop of Glendening a few times to really appreciate his immediate transition from goal-front screener to the guy boxing out Connor Carrick to make room on the weak side. Whether Nyquist is looking to pass, wrap around, or go back to the point on the far side of the net like he does, Glendening locking Carrick out from that side is the smart play.

Mike Green’s shot selection here off the bench is veteran smart. He knows that’s where he’s got his teammates and if you’re going to miss the net on a shot like that, it’s better to miss it to the side your teammates are likely to get the rebound.

Dennis Cholowski got a plus on this play because he changed before it was scored. He did a good job...being...on the ice...

Mantha’s shift was just shy of a minute before he scores and he’s well-involved the whole time as a winger. He keeps his lane appropriate throughout the shift and several times does the responsible thing by making sure he’s either covering the point for a pinching Green or hanging back as the third forward high when Larkin/Glendening finds an opportunity to jump in low. He’s responsible coming back and in the right place when the Ericsson pass gets knocked down and makes a smart turn and pass to get the Wings back into the zone with enough speed to create a rush opportunity that ends with the goal scored thanks to his puck retrieval and then his sense to find open ice. I’m glad to see him rewarded for a really good series of plays.