Laviolette Explains New Capitals Lines, Discusses Mantha: ‘He’s Frustrated’
Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette speaks on the team’s lineup decisions and said he had a conversation with a “frustrated” Anthony Mantha.
ARLINGTON, V.A. — Washington Capitals forward Anthony Mantha found himself on the outs again at Monday's practice, skating as an extra and interchanging with Sonny Milano on the top line, a spot that he wants to be in as the season goes forward.
It's not an ideal position that No. 39 finds himself in, and head coach Peter Laviolette understands how he feels based on their conversation.
"We talked, and he's frustrated, as he should be," Laviolette pointed out. "If you're in this room, you want to play."
Mantha was a healthy scratch for the first time in his D.C. tenure back on Sunday in a 1-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, and if Monday's lines stick, he'll sit for the second straight game on Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers.
When asked about the decision, the 28-year-old called it a "wake-up call" and said that he needs to focus on improving his work ethic, while he also said that Laviolette wasn't necessarily upset with his production, but "the rest of my game."
“I think I had a good stretch, a bad stretch. It’s part of hockey, I don’t think I was playing terrible. Obviously, the minutes were going down… you kind of knew it was coming.
“Work, that’s all I can do. Work out, work, practice like today and practice tomorrow and I’ll be ready if there’s an injury or if I’m called upon… Right now that’s what I need to do if I want to get back in the lineup, and I’ll have to show them."
Laviolette didn't share an exact reason why Mantha was scratched but said the decisions to sit him and Nicolas Aube-Kubel also has to do with asset management and getting Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson back into the mix. He also added that there's not always going to be an exact reason behind lineup decisions with the team looking to balance the workload between 14 healthy forwards.
"He'll get back in there. These decisions are tough, I talked to the players about it today. Aube-Kubel didn't do anything to come out of the lineup except score two goals in two games… it will change, and I had a conversation with the players saying if it does change, you can come in and talk to me, but there may be no specific reason why you're coming out of the lineup other than we want to keep everybody active and moving," Laviolette said.
"What kept us in there at the beginning of the year, that depth that we signed and was able to keep us in the mix, now that we're started to get players back, it puts extra players in the mix," he added. "So, if three games from now somebody sits, there's no reason to ask me, 'What did he do wrong?' It's just we've got to manage 14 good players."