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Laviolette Explains Mantha Scratches, Wants More From 39 In Final Games

Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette discusses Anthony Mantha’s play and what he wants to see when No. 39 makes his return from back-to-back healthy scratches.



ARLINGTON, V.A. — For the first time in days, Anthony Mantha found himself in the mix as the Washington Capitals took rushes at Tuesday's morning skate, and he is set to make his return to the lineup against the Columbus Blue Jackets after two games watching from the press box as a healthy scratch.

Mantha will play on the third line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Craig Smith, and head coach Peter Laviolette hopes he will see a rejuvenated No. 39 take center ice.

"He can be a really dominant player when he wants to be," Laviolette explained.

In 2023, Mantha has just one goal, four assists and 35 shots, and to start the year, he went without a goal in 19 straight games. He has been snakebitten this season, managing just 10 goals through 61 games. Though he's had some high-quality chances, he has struggled to be a consistent presence, and his two-way game needs improvement as well.

"I'd like to see some consistency with his game with regard to his speed and his pace," Laviolette also added.

For Mantha, the confidence level was admittedly "very low" when he returned from the All-Star Break, as he experienced a series of healthy scratches before then, with Laviolette sending the same message that he has sent the last two games as Washington continues its final playoff push down the stretch. Still, he is aware of what he needs to do to remain in the mix, and Tuesday's game provides a big opportunity for him to step up with the Capitals needing to collect as many points as possible with just 11 games to go.

"I think it's everything," Mantha said back in February regarding where he needs to improve. "All about the game, all about the physical aspects, but also, the mental side."

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