The Detroit Red Wings have the league’s worst record and lowest-scoring offense. Subtracting Anthony Mantha from the lineup makes their outlook even bleaker.
Mantha, the team’s leading scorer with 12 goals and 23 points, missed his first game of the season on Sunday due to a lower-body injury. Without him, the Wings’ offense went from bad to worse as they were blanked 2-0 by Carolina.
They’ll look to end a six-game winless streak when they host Toronto on Wednesday.
Mantha will miss at least a week after being injured early in the Wings’ 5-1 loss to New Jersey on Saturday. Without him, the Wings had just eight shots on goal in the last two periods against the Hurricanes.
“We didn’t have an offensive spark (Sunday),” first line center Dylan Larkin said.
“Anthony’s been our best offensive player this year and he’s dangerous every time he’s on the ice. We missed him, but it can’t be something that we start to look at here (as an excuse). … We have to find ways. We have to find answers within our lineup right now and we’ve got to do it fast with a lot of games here coming up.”
Filip Zadina, who turns 20 on Wednesday, was promoted from the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins in Mantha’s absence. Zadina skated with the second line and had one shot on goal.
Zadina was the team’s No. 1 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft and sixth overall. He appeared in nine Wings games late last season. He had 13 points with the Griffins in 19 games this season.
“I was glad for those nine games (last season),” he said. “It showed me what NHL hockey is all about. It helped me a lot and I was so appreciative I could be here with those guys. Now I’m here (again) and I want to do my best and stay as long as I can.”
Zadina should have more energy in his second NHL game this season. The Griffins played a back-to-back over the weekend and his season debut with the Wings was his third game in three nights.
“He came in and didn’t look out of place,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “His first period was very good. Then he played like the rest of the team and didn’t generate as much after that.”
Toronto will be fresh after getting a three-day layoff. The Maple Leafs have won both their games since firing coach Mike Babcock. They recorded a 5-3 road win over Colorado on Saturday.
“While it was ugly, what it did require was us to really battle, especially down the stretch at the end of the game,” said new coach Sheldon Keefe. “We had some guys out there really competing, really making it hard on the other team.”
Keefe, 39, was coaching the team’s AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, prior to replacing Babcock. Even though he has already coached a majority of the Leafs players, he’s trying to get to know everyone in the locker room. The layoff helps that cause.
“It’s nice, it’s important. Things will settle down for me,” he said. “We’ll work on some things and continue to grow the group. I’ll get a chance to grow my relationships with individual players and to me that’s a priority right now. The other stuff will come together in time.”
The Leafs won the first of four meetings between the teams on Oct. 12. They scored three third-period goals in that 5-2 victory at Detroit.
–Field Level Media