Detroit – Anthony Mantha is in a good place, and playing where he should be playing at this point in his career.
The Red Wings' 2013 first-round pick, currently playing in Grand Rapids, has six points (four goals, two assists) in 14 games with the Griffins while getting his first taste of professional hockey.
Mantha, 20, came into training camp with a slim possibility of making it onto the Red Wings roster. But any chance of that disappeared when Mantha fractured his tibia during a prospects tournament game.
Now, Mantha is learning what pro hockey is all about.
"Because of some of the numbers he put up in junior hockey (81 goals in 81 games last season), there were some unrealistic expectations," general manager Ken Holland said. "Then he got hurt and when he returned, guys were two months into the season. He's getting better all the time. You see flashes of all the things he can do.
"But it's a hard league. It's professional hockey. He's learning what it takes to be successful."
There's a possibility Mantha could be promoted to the Red Wings at some point this season if injuries strike at the NHL level, although there are plenty of Griffins forwards off to good starts.
Teemu Pulkkinen (11 goals, 26 points in 25 games), Grosse Pointe's Andy Miele and Mitch Callahan (both with 18 points), and Andreas Athanasiou (16 points) have all been productive and impressive in the early going of the AHL season.
Shootout ups and downs
Holland said the Red Wings' woes in the shootout this season could just be a normal cycle of things.
The Red Wings are 1-6 in shootouts and have lost three of them in the last week, the latest Tuesday's 1-0 setback to Columbus.
"Several years ago we were winning them more often than losing," Holland said. "It's about getting on a roll. You get on a roll, you don't think about it.
"You lose some of them, like we have, and suddenly people are talking about it, asking questions. We just have to work our way out of it, win some of them and get on a roll."
One thing is for sure: Holland sees the points lost as crucial.
"We've been in 11 overtime games in 33 games, so you have to figure we will be involved in quite a few more of those games the rest of the season," Holland said. "We have to figure out a way to win some shootouts because those are valuable points."
Holland thinks the Red Wings will have both Johan Franzen (flu) and Stephen Weiss (shoulder) back this weekend. Franzen, who missed Tuesday's game, should be back for Friday's game against the Islanders.
Holland said Weiss, who is able to come off the injured list Saturday, could be ready for Sunday's game against the Avalanche.