Anthony Mantha Dreams of Health, But Also of a 30-goal Season

WASHINGTON | "Bonjour, comment ça va? I speak a little French too, but not as well as Moe." On this Saturday morning at the Capitals' training complex in Arlington, Virginia, Evgeny Kuznetsov is having fun with his teammate and neighbor of three or four lockers, Anthony Mantha.

Kuznetsov once took French classes in Russia, but he suspected he wouldn't be the focus of Quebec reporters just hours before the Habs visit the U.S. capital.

Moe is Mantha's nickname, a nod to the former Winnipeg Jets and Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman of the 80s.

Mantha quickly set the tone for the conversation. For this 2022-2023 season, the 28-year-old big winger will want to avoid the infirmary at all costs.

"Health is very important to me this year," he admitted. My goal is to play 77 games or more. At 77 games, we're talking about a pretty full season. It's a long year, I really wish myself to stay healthy."

It's pretty rare to see an NHL player directly quantify a goal to achieve. It's even rarer to see a player talk about 77 games.

"I like that number! He probably said it to make me happy," replied winger T.J. Oshie, who wears 77 with the Caps. I've had my share of injuries since I started in the NHL and I can understand his reality. He is right to wish himself health. It's cliché, but the best way to avoid injury is still to play not trying to avoid injury."

Four Months

Mantha underwent shoulder surgery in early November last year and was out for a lengthy 45-game stretch.

"Last year was my toughest injury," noted the former Detroit Red Wings first-round pick in 2013. I was out for four months, three of which I wasn't traveling with the guys. I was traveling between home and the arena, but I hardly saw my teammates since I was doing my rehab exercises before or after practice."

"I played well for the last 20 games of the season and found I had some juice in the playoffs. Mentally, it's hard when you go a long time without playing. Physically, you have to work really hard to come back from surgery."

A Scorer

Mantha doesn't just have his eyes on a nearly full season, he also wants to fill the net. Since his NHL debut, he has been described as a winger with the potential to score 30-plus goals. He's had 24- and 25-goal seasons with the Wings, but he's never reached 30.

"A 30-goal season is my goal too," he replied. I won't lie. Is that achievable? If I stay healthy, I think so. I just have to stay healthy. And I'll need to believe it."

In Oshie's eyes, Mantha has the talent to make it happen.

"I really believe he can score 30 goals," said the 35-year-old American. If he's healthy for a full season, the 30-goal plateau is more the floor than the ceiling for Moe."

Jean-François Chaumond, Le Journal de Montréal, Saturday, October 15, 2022

Translated from French - Original article link:

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