Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill talks about the loss of Anthony Mantha to hand surgery. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
Detroit — It was a painful way to lose Anthony Mantha, but coach Jeff Blashill is fine with it.
Blashill confirmed after Tuesday’s morning skate Mantha will be out 4-to-6 weeks after injuring his hand in a fight Sunday with Colorado’s Patrik Nemeth.
Mantha had surgery Tuesday afternoon, Blashill said.
Nemeth checked Dylan Larkin heavily into the boards Sunday — Larkin was temporarily shaken on the play — and Mantha immediately fought Nemeth, landing several hard right hands to Nemeth’s head.
The fact Mantha came to Larkin’s defense is crucial, Blashill said, and makes the injury to Mantha bearable.
“There’s inherent risk in playing hockey, inherent risk in getting into a fight,” Blashill said. “He was sticking up for Larkin that case, who got his head rung against the boards. I know this — he’d do it again, and I’m good with him doing it again.
“I want him doing it again. We want to make sure we’re sticking up for each other. You’re not going anywhere, at anytime, if you have a team that is selfish and doesn’t care about each other. No chance.
“The best chance for us to have great success here is for us to make sure we’re looking after each other at all times. Sometimes these types of things will happen. That’s the reality of life. Of course you should stick up for your teammate. Otherwise, you never win.”
Mantha is third on the Red Wings with nine goals, and he has five assists, for 14 points in 27 games, with a minus-8 rating.
“He’s been playing excellent,” Blashill said. “He certainly has the ability to score on one shot. Not a ton of guys are like that. He’s done a real good job of becoming a more complete player. He’s brought physicality. You lose a real good player.
“Now, if you look at our lines the other night, we had a real skilled guy on our fourth line (Thomas Vanek) we have a chance to move up. We have plenty of skill on the top two lines, and other guys can step up during the absence, no different than what we’ve been doing all year.
“We’re going to have enough skill to dress to win.”
Larkin, Mantha’s linemate, felt the two forwards had been developing productive chemistry over the last several weeks.
“It’s a big loss,” said Larkin of Mantha’s injury. “It’s unfortunate we lose one of our big scorers, offensive threats, we’re hoping he’ll be OK.
“Him and I felt the chemistry had been clicking the past couple of games. It’s unfortunate right when you feel it and he’s out of the lineup.”
Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi talks about his two-game suspension for unsportsmanlike conduct Sunday against Colorado. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
Bertuzzi not surprised
The loss of Mantha is compounded by Monday’s suspension of Tyler Bertuzzi for two games for Bertuzzi’s role in a sequence near the Wings’ bench Sunday against Colorado.
Bertuzzi punched Avalanche forward Matt Calvert, who was held down on the Wings bench after Mike Green had checked Calvert near the Wings’ bench.
“Pretty black and white,” Bertuzzi said of the incident. “It was quick to happen out there. Stupid on my part. Things happen fast, I can learn from it.”
Bertuzzi maintains he was provoked into doing what he did.
“The reason I reacted, more or less, I felt like I got speared (by Calvert),” Bertuzzi said.
Larkin was next to Bertuzzi on the bench when the incident occurred.
“I saw, I know what he (Calvert) he was doing, trying to spear Bert, and I reacted and grabbed him,” Larkin said. “Part of it is on me, I just reacted to what I saw and didn’t like what I saw.
“It’s an unfortunate play, it’s unfortunate Bert is out. What we saw happened, that’s why we reacted. We wouldn’t have reacted just by him (Calvert) trying to push a guy.”
Blashill felt Bertuzzi reacted in the heat of the moment.
“I don’t think Bert is a dirty player at all,” Blashill said. “Certainly there was a spear that preceded it, once the spear happens, to a large degree, all bets are off.
“Bert doesn’t run around and take chaep shots at anybody, at any time. Bert goes face to face and challenges people. He doesn’t do it any other way. There’s nothing dirty about Bert. He’s becoming an excellent player.
“He made a poor decision to put himself in a poor spot. He’s been great for us, and we’ll welcome him back as soon as he’s ready to go.”
Bertuzzi is able to return to the lineup Saturday aginst the New York Islanders.
World junior decisions
The Wings decided to keep Michael Rasmussen in the NHL, rather than let Rasmussen compete for Canada in the world junior tournament next month.
But there remains a chance Filip Zadina, who is on the Czech Republic’s preliminary roster, could be released. The Wings continue to debate the decision, with camp beginning later next week.
Rasmussen was pleased to remain in the NHL.
“I can get more experience as we go along,” Rasmussen said. “Get more comfortable, and all that, and keep helping the team.”
Red Wings draft picks forward Joe Veleno and defenseman Jared McIsaac are both on Canada’s preliminary roster.