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Bend At The Knees

February 13, 2018, 1:01 PM ET [12 Comments]
Bob Duff
Detroit Red Wings Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Bend at the knees. Whether you are moving furniture around the house, or looking to move up the scoring ladder, apparently this handy tip applies.

Can it really be that simple?

In the case of Anthony Mantha, Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill believes this to be so.

As the Wings prepare to face the Anaheim Ducks Tuesday at Little Caesars Arena, right-winger Mantha, Detroit’s goal-scoring leader with 19, has tallied three times in the last two games. He’d scored once in the nine games prior to this stretch of success.

The difference?

“For me, it’s just the simplicity of bending his knees,” Blashill told Detroitredwings.com. “When he bends his knees and skates, he’s excellent. To me, that’s the fire starter for him. What’s the one thing that makes a big difference? To me it’s when he bends his knees and skates, as opposed to skating straight legged. That’s just a thing he’s been working on for a long time.

“He’s done that now on a way more regular basis than the 10-20 games prior. As a result, he’d gotten tons of chances but hadn’t necessarily been rewarded, now he’s getting rewarded more. When he skates like that, he’s going to score goals, he’s going to make plays offensively. ”

In Mantha’s mind, another significant contributor to his recent run of red lights is that, like the rest of his Red Wings teammates, he is embracing the shooting mentality that Blashill has preached to them all season long.

In this case, Mantha is certain that more is better. His goal is to average five shots on goal per game. With only seven shots over his last three games, he isn’t reaching that output, but on the flip side Mantha has three goals on his last five shots, a 60 percent success rate.

“If you bring in stats, it’s somewhere between 15 to 20 percent for shooters when they score, so with five shots your chances are 20 percent for a goal,” Mantha said. “Obviously, you may get one, you might get two if you get lucky.”

There are other variables at work as well. With today’s emphasis on shot blocking, a player getting five shots on net in one game is quite an achievement. In fact, Mantha has accomplished this feat just once in the past 21 games, registering six shots Feb. 2 at Carolina, and he’s done it only three times all season long.

“You need to have the perfect timing because a shot attempt you could miss the net, it could be blocked, stick on puck, so you need to be quick, you need to find the perfect time to shoot the puck,” Mantha explained. “Like I said, that’s my goal (five shots a game) every game and sometimes you don’t reach it, but when you do good things happen.”

Blashill sees another trait in Mantha’s game of late that indicates promise of a brighter future. There’s more consistency in his performance on a nightly basis.

“What I’m see right now is work ethic,” Blashill said. “I think his work ethic has been great the last 10 games.

“I think he’s been excellent. I think his second effort’s been good, I think his skating’s been good.”

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