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Wings prospect Mantha making modest strides

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — He was the prospect everyone talked about last fall, the player fans wanted to see jump from junior hockey to the NHL.

Anthony Mantha scored 81 goals in 81 junior games and fans expected to see that type of prolific production in the NHL.

But last season turned into misery for Mantha, who fractured his tibia during the prospects camp, then struggled in the minor leagues.

Mantha is slowly, but surely, beginning to look like a legitimate prospect again.

Mantha wasn't in the lineup Wednesday. However, the night before in Chicago Mantha was, arguably, one of the Red Wings' best players.

This, after starring in the Red-White scrimmage Monday to conclude training camp.

Baby steps, but it's exactly what the Red Wings want to see.

"You improve by little steps, not one giant leap," coach Jeff Blashill said. "He's done a good job."

Blashill feels along with his goal scoring, Mantha has to learn to do the things to get into those positions to score on the ice.

"First of all, Anthony is a scorer and he has to score," Blashill said. "Ultimately to be a real good player in this league, he is going to have to be an elite scorer.

"He'll have to do other things right to get himself into those spots, and he seems to be doing those things. I also think confidence is a huge thing and I can see him gaining confidence."

Overtime excitement

The Red Wings experienced their first real taste of three-on-three overtime against an opponent in the game Tuesday.

The game ended early when Chicago defenseman Trevor Daley scored at 1:40 of the five-minute overtime.

The NHL was hoping to limit the number of games going into a shootout with the three-on-three format, and if early indications are true, that will most definitely be the case.

Blashill predicted last week fewer games would last into a shootout because of the three-on-three format because of the ample room available for elite scorers.

The prediction is looking accurate.

"We lost the (opening) draw (Monday) and we didn't touch the puck for 40 seconds, and we spent the whole time in our end," Blashill said. "We were able to come up with a turnover and then we had the puck for about a minute, had an unreal opportunity in front, didn't score, and then they go down two-on-one and score."

Fans appeared to be tiring of too many shootouts, but aren't likely to be bored with this format.

"It's extremely exciting," Blashill said. "It's going to end games before the shootout, and it's something we're going to have to be good at because there's going to be a lot of points there for grabs."

Datsyuk update

Pavel Datsyuk (ankle) will be re-evaluated Thursday and will get an update on his recovery.

Datsyuk had surgery on his ankle in late June for ruptured tendons in his ankle. The original estimate was for Datsyuk to be ready to play anywhere from late October to November.

Datsyuk has been around the team and attended training camp but has yet to do any skating.

Ice chips

The Blackhawks essentially brought their minor league team to Joe Louis Arena Wednesday but there was one familiar name.

Former Red Wings (and Blackhawks) player Tomas Kopecky, in Chicago's camp on a pro tryout, was in the Blackhawks lineup.

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

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