For the first time since mid-November, the Flames have lost back-to-back games in regulation. While they’re still in first place in the Western Conference, though – and playing mostly well, at that – there’s clearly no time to rest on their laurels, not when work still has to be done.
And so, the Flames are trying something new: another shakeup of their lines at practice. Whether they stick or not – for the next game, for the rest of the season, what have you will – there are certainly some interesting combinations in here.
The new lines are as follows:
We’ve seen Matthew Tkachuk slide in alongside Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan a couple of times this season. Via Natural Stat Trick, they’ve played 65:27 total together at 5v5 this season, with a 61.15% CF, 71.88% HDCF, and 33.33% GF. Their goals don’t match with their other results, suggesting that this could be a line worth taking another look at – especially as Monahan looks like he might be back up on the upswing, while Tkachuk still needs some help to get going.
The big one here, though, is Andrew Mangiapane being moved up into a top six role. He’s performed at an elite level in the AHL – he had 17 points in 15 games this year before being called up to join the NHL, seemingly permanently, in his third professional season – but that just hasn’t translated to the big league. Giving him two very skilled players to work with in Mikael Backlund and Elias Lindholm, though, could really be a boon for Mangiapane if the trio is able to take off – and may allow for fewer moments in which Mangiapane is so far ahead of his linemates he’s left completely alone, which has happened a few times in the past couple of games.
— FantenbergNation (@FlamesNation) March 3, 2019
Mangiapane has three goals and six points in 28 games this season. Lindholm is second in team scoring and Backlund is sixth, plus both are responsible, smart, and dynamic players – so this will be interesting if it sticks.
The third line has maybe been the Flames’ most consistent to date – at the very least, Sam Bennett, Mark Jankowski, and Austin Czarnik have shown a lot of creativity and effort in the offensive zone – so no need to split that trio apart. James Neal remains out of the lineup due to injury.
That leaves Michael Frolik on the fourth line with Derek Ryan and Garnet Hathaway, but Ryan and Hathaway have been far from slouches this season, and especially as of late. The fourth line has been getting in on the offence, too; Frolik may have less ice time as a result of this move, but he should still be able to contribute.
Just like when he was first traded to the Flames, it seems there isn’t really a spot for Curtis Lazar in the lineup at this time.
Rasmus Andersson has been getting more and more looks with Mark Giordano as of late, especially as TJ Brodie’s game appears to be continuing to falter. They’ve played 102:18 minutes at 5v5 together so far this season, posting a 56.87% CF, 51.06% HDCF, and 76.47% GF. Their goals for doesn’t quite match up with their corsi numbers, but positive results are positive results – and Andersson is a rookie. Chances are he only gets better, especially playing alongside someone of Giordano’s caliber.
Noah Hanifin and Travis Hamonic remain a pairing, but what’s interesting is to see that Brodie, though demoted, got partnered with Dalton Prout – not Oliver Kylington or Oscar Fantenberg. Does this mean Prout is in the lineup next? Though he’s probably the lesser of the eight options the Flames have, their next game is against the Golden Knights, and they do have some bruisers on their team – most prominently Ryan Reaves – so… maybe.
Though it is an interesting move, especially as Kylington just received one of his highest ice times of the season, and Fantenberg has looked solid in the two games he’s played thus far.
It seems as though David Rittich still has the starter’s net for now, which has to be the right call – he wasn’t at fault for most of the goals the Maple Leafs scored Monday night, and the Flames need to give him every chance to get his confidence back, just like they did for their other goalie, for better or worse.