Photo: The Athletic
After playing on the left side of center Nicklas Backstrom’s wing for his first eight games with the Washington Capitals, forward Anthony Mantha said that it “felt good” and “natural” to be on right side for the first time in the team’s morning skate prior to their game against the New York Rangers (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington). Forward T.J. Oshie will not play on Monday due to a family matter, so Mantha will shift to the opposite side. Mantha told the media that he did not ask for it and thought it happened for more balance. He played on the left for seven-to-eight years previously.
The 26-year-old said that “everything’s set now” in the Washington area after moving into an apartment last week and his girlfriend, Caitlyn, brought their cars and golden doodle, Millie, over from Detroit.
“Right away, I got excited,” he told the media of the moment he found out he got traded to the Capitals. Mantha, who has yet to play a Stanley Cup Playoff game in his six-season NHL career, views the final five regular-season games as “preparation for playoff hockey” and wants to “play the best hockey I can and get ready for [the Stanley Cup] Playoffs.”
Since a five-game goal-streak, where he posted five goals and six points, dating back to his final game with the Red Wings ended, Mantha has just one assist and a -1 rating in five games. When asked about his current mindset, Mantha responded that he is “trying to skate as much as I can, throw the body around a little bit, create some Grade-A chances.” Mantha is confident that the goals and points will come with work and felt like he had a couple of good chances in the Capitals’ 3-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at Capital One Arena on Saturday.
On what went wrong in the Capitals’ two-game series against the Penguins, where they went 0-1-1 and got outscored by a total of 8-4, Mantha felt like “We gave up a little too many chances against [in the first game].” He thought that the Capitals outchanced them on Saturday but pucks did not go in. “Obviously, we learned a lot from those two games and move forward from here. Who knows? We could face them again soon,” he added.
By Harrison Brown