Mantha Opens Up About Being Healthy Scratch For Capitals: ‘Wake-Up Call’
Washington Capitals forward Anthony Mantha spoke on being a healthy scratch for the first time in his D.C. tenure and his plan to get back into the lineup.
ARLINGTON, V.A. — At 9 a.m. on Sunday, Anthony Mantha found himself skating with the extras after finding out he would be a healthy scratch for the Washington Capitals against the Columbus Blue Jackets, a decision that he wasn't necessarily surprised by.
It marked the first time in his D.C. tenure that he'd draw out of the lineup, as Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson returning led to head coach Peter Laviolette having to choose two forwards to draw out. Mantha was one of them, and he received the message loud and clear.
"He's obviously not happy with my game, that's pretty much it," Mantha said bluntly.
Through 42 games this season, Mantha has nine goals and 14 assists for 23 points while experiencing bouts of inconsistency. At times, he'll be on his game and going on point streaks. At other times, he'll cool down and fail to convert on several chances. However, he said the decision likely goes beyond his production.
“I think I had a good stretch, a bad stretch. It’s part of hockey, I don’t think I was playing terrible," Mantha said. "Obviously, the minutes were going down, decision to play me 9:48 in my last game there, so you kind of knew it was coming… I don’t think it’s necessarily the points and the goals he’s mad about, I think it’s more the rest of the game.”
“I felt good, I mean body-wise, like you said, no injuries, I think it’s the first year in a couple of years that I played the first half of the season without getting injured. So I was pumped for that. Like I said, it’s a slap in the face, maybe a wake-up call and work your way back.”
While he was disappointed with the decision, he said he understood that decisions needed to be made and said that he wasn't complaining after being given several chances to perform. He also said he is still trying to find out how his role meshes with the team's systems.
“I think I’ve played a little bit of everywhere since I’ve been here. So you know, I don’t think I could complain for that. He was trying to find combinations or duos or three-os that was working really well, and I think I’ve played with a lot of different centermans, left, right wingers, so I can’t complain for that. I mean, the first power play unit’s stacked here, so you know it’s hard to get on there. And then you get only a couple, maybe 30-40 seconds max, if you’re on the second unit. So maybe that was the hardest to kind of perform and bring some points or goals with that part but except that, they gave me the chance to play with everyone. Like I said, I’m not complaining.”
However, when it comes to what he has to work on the most, he said it comes down to the mental aspect of the game.
“I think just my work ethic. 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.”
That work ethic will factor into his road back to the lineup, which he recognizes won't be easy. The 6-5, 234-pound winger said that the only thing he can control now is how much effort he puts in, and that in turn will lead to confidence and hopefully, a jersey going forward.
"[I have to] work. I mean, that's all I can do," Mantha said. "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. That’s all can do… [Confidence is] not as easy to switch on and off, you know? You need to work back, and it's going to take a lot of games to get confidence back, for sure."