Red Wings’ Mantha credits linemates Bertuzzi, Larkin for hot start

Red Wings sniper Anthony Mantha joins Hockey Central to discuss his 4-goal game in the club's home opener, and to discuss how good the chemistry is on his line with Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi.

The Detroit Red Wings are 2-0-0 out of the gates, thanks in large part to the team’s top line of Anthony Mantha, Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi.

The trio have already combined for a whopping 16 points with Mantha in particular taking his game to new heights early in the 2019-20 campaign.

Heading into Monday’s action, Mantha sat tied with Toronto Maple Leafs sniper Auston Matthews for the league lead in goals with five and sits alone in second place in overall scoring with seven points behind only Mika Zibanejad (eight points) of the New York Rangers.

Mantha, 25, joined Hockey Central at Noon on Monday after being named the NHL’s second star of the week and sang the praises of his linemates.

“Oh it’s amazing,” Mantha said of his line’s hot start. “We ended up finishing last year on a good note and I think we’re just getting to know each other even more on the ice. It’s fun to play 15, 20 (minutes) with the same linemates and I mean Larkin and Bertuzzi are just playing unreal hockey right now and I think the chemistry is where it needs to be right now.”

On Sunday, Mantha’s first four-goal game in the NHL helped down the Dallas Stars.

Mantha was selected 20th overall by the Red Wings in 2013; Larkin was taken 15th overall the following year. Those two have been in the spotlight in Detroit ever since. Bertuzzi, on the other hand, flew under the radar relatively speaking as the 58th pick in the 2013 NHL Draft. Mantha thinks he’s the most under-appreciated member of the team.

“He’s worked his ass off,” Mantha said. “He’s been tremendous for us the last couple years. I mean, he showed everyone one in the first game of the season (in which he notched two goals, two assists in a 5-3 win over Nashville) that he was ready to roll and he wants to be a impact player for our team.”

Mantha scored 24 goals in 80 games in 2017-18 and set a new career high in 2018-19 with 25 tallies in only 67 outings. Now, the former QMJHL star is on pace to score 205 goals this year (early-season projections are fun, aren’t they?). Eventually the 6-foot-5, 225-pound winger is bound to cool off but he’s well on his way to posting new career-best numbers as his team looks to get back to the playoffs for the first time in four years.

“We’re tired of losing,” Mantha added. “It’s been a hard couple years and we’ve said it over and over again up to now that we could be a team that surprises a lot of other teams. That’s the mentality we’re going in with and we want to be a hard team to play against and that’s exactly what we’ve proven thus far the first two games.”

The Red Wings return to action Tuesday at home against the Anaheim Ducks, a team also 2-0-0.

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