WASHINGTON | “Hi, how are you? I also speak some French, but not as well as Moe. This Saturday morning at the Capitals’ training complex in Arlington, Virginia, Evgeny Kuznetsov is having fun with his teammate and three or four locker neighbor, Anthony Mantha .
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Kuznetsov has already taken French lessons in Russia, but suspected that just a few hours before the Canadian’s visit to the American capital, he would not be the focus of Quebec journalists.
Moe is Mantha’s nickname, a reference to the former defender for the Winnipeg Jets and Pittsburgh Penguins in the ’80s.
Mantha quickly set the tone for the conversation. For this 2022-2023 season, the tall 28-year-old winger will want to avoid the infirmary at all costs.
“Health is very important to me this year,” he admitted. My goal is to play 77 games and more. With 77 games we’re talking about a pretty full season. It’s been a long year, I really wish to stay healthy.”
It’s fairly rare for an NHL player to directly quantify a goal to be achieved. It’s even rarer to see a player talking about 77 games.
“I love this number! He probably said it to please me, replied winger TJ Oshie, wearing the 77 with the caps. I’ve had my fair share of injuries since I started in the NHL and I understand the reality. He’s right to wish himself well. It’s a cliche, but the best way to avoid injury is to play without trying to avoid injury.
Having had shoulder surgery in early November last year, Mantha was missing a lengthy 45-game stretch.
“Last year was my worst injury,” said the former 2013 Detroit Red Wings first-round pick. Guys. I’ve been moving between house and arena, but I’ve hardly seen my teammates as I’ve been doing my rehabilitation exercises before or after practice.
“I played well the last 20 games of the season and I thought I had some juice in the playoffs. Mentally it’s difficult if you don’t play for a long time. Physically you have to work really hard to come back from surgery.”
Not only is Mantha eyeing a near-full season, he’s also looking to fill the net. Since his NHL debut, he has been described as a winger with the potential to score 30 goals or more. He had 24- and 25-goal seasons with the Wings but never made it into his 30s.
“A 30-goal season is my goal too,” he replied. i won’t lie Is that achievable? If I stay healthy, I think so. I just have to stay healthy. And I have to believe it.”
In Oshie’s eyes, Mantha has the talent to make it happen.
“I really think he can score 30 goals,” said the 35-year-old American. If he’s healthy for a full season, Moe’s 30-goal plateau is more the floor than the ceiling.”
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