The Free Press’s Helene St. James spoke with Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou ahead of tonight’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, addressing their captain and coach’s criticism from last night’s post-game media availability:
Friday morning saw Anthony Mantha admit just how bad he’d been the night before, when, after a 4-0 loss to Vegas, captain Henrik Zetterberg said there was too much poke-and-hope in some teammates, that they need to learn to play the right way. Zetterberg didn’t name names but the criticism fit Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou in particular, and Mantha owned it immediately.
“Oh for sure,” he said after an optional skate at Nationwide Arena Friday. “It wasn’t a good game for me. I made two big mistakes and it’s in the back of our net. I need to be sharper.”
Mantha has shouldered public criticism before, including last November when coach Jeff Blashill said that he “has got to be way better. Way better. It’s not OK to just be a passenger when you are given the opportunity to be an impact player.”
The latest was earned after he lost the puck to Vegas’ William Karlsson leading to a shorthanded goal, and then let Cody Eakins free-wheel in Detroit’s zone leading to a 3-0 deficit.
Athanasiou, who was on for the first and fourth goals, acknowledged a need to heed Zetterberg’s criticism.
“He’s talking to us as a group,” Athanasiou said. “Any time you have someone like that speaking out, it’s a little bit of a message to make sure you’re ready for the next one. If there’s one play where you can bear down a little more, it’s going to make a huge difference.”
St. James continues, and she posted a video of Mantha, Athanasiou and coach Blashill’s remarks:
Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou, two young players who have felt the wrath of coach Jeff Blashill before – and after Thursday’s game, too – admitted Friday the Zetterberg was correct in his criticism.
“It wasn’t a good game for me,” Mantha said. “I made two big mistakes and it’s in the back of our net. I need to be sharper.”
“I need to keep learning,’ Mantha said. “No one is perfect. As a young guy there is so much to learn. You have to bring your ‘A’ game every night.”
Mantha said he and Athanasiou and Dylan Larkin have talked about their desire to “be better.”
“We want to be good,” Mantha said.
Athanasiou, who lost the puck on Vegas’ fourth and final goal, acknowledged Zetterberg’s message struck home.
“Any time you have someone like that speaking out, it’s a bit of a message to make sure you’re ready for the next one,” Athanasiou said. “If there’s one play where you can bear down a bit more, it’s going to make a huge difference.”