MLive’s Ansar Khan penned an article discussing what very well may be the Red Wings’ top line in Tyler Bertuzzi, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha:
“You have three real good players,” Blashill said. “Bert is an F-1 (leader) on the forecheck, he’s a net-front guy. That allows the other two – not that they’re not hard on the forecheck – to use their skill. … I think putting them together can make a real good line.”
Larkin led the Red Wings with 63 points and assumes top-line duty now that Henrik Zetterberg is done playing. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Mantha led the team with 24 goals. Bertuzzi picked up seven goals and 24 points in 48 games as a rookie.
“If you’re going to play with Larks, you don’t want to be behind him all night, so you got to play at a high pace,” Blashill said. “I also hope the three of them can become a real good O-zone line. They’ve been a good rush group, but they need to be a good O-zone group, so we can spend less time defending and more time in the opposite end. I think they have it in them, it’s just learning how to protect the puck, use cutbacks, use each other and spread the zone, so hopefully they can have good chemistry.”
Mantha didn’t take off-season boxing lessons like he had planned, after a setback in training (he tweaked his knee, an MRI showed it’s fine). He instead focused on skating – including power skating – and stick-handling drills.
“(Larkin) brings a lot of speed, and sometimes it opens up scoring opportunities,” Mantha said. “I think it brings me to push myself and try to follow him as fast as I can.”
Mantha added, “I had a goal last year to score 30, obviously I didn’t reach it, so I think it’s the same goal this year. I want to be a big body in front of that net and get those extra goals that last year didn’t come.”