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Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Top six Andrew Mangiapane? Flames shake up lines at practice

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:

Gaudreau Monahan Tkachuk
Mangiapane Backlund Lindholm
Bennett Jankowski Czarnik
Frolik Ryan Hathaway
Lazar

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.

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.

Giordano Andersson
Hanifin Hamonic
Brodie Prout
Fantenberg Kylington

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.

Rittich
Smith

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.

  • CalgaryBornandRaised

    While I turned my TV off last night in anger, today is a new day Flames fans,

    Flames go out and beat Vegas in their barn, all will be forgiven

  • Joel Ottos Jock

    Makes more sense than having him on the fourth line. He is a high skilled guy. Big fan of getting Frolik away from the second and third line.
    I’d like to see this tried
    Gaudreau Backlund Monahan
    Tkchuck Bennett Lindholm
    Mangi Janko Czar
    Hathaway Ryan Lazar

    • HOCKEY83

      I think over 3 seasons in the OHL mangi was nearly as good as Debrincat in the goal scoring department. Debrincat has been givin a glorious opportunity in chicago playing with very skilled players and is thriving. Mangi was an elite goal scorer in the OHL. Given the same opportunity He might as well. And not just a couple shifts in one game then change it back. Let him get comfortable with his new line mates….give him a few games playing with skill.

  • Em Durp Em Hrudey

    Things must get shook up a bit so its nice to see a coach who will give something new a try. Others must see something in Mangiapane that I am missing though. To me he looks weak on the puck and spends alot of time picking himself up off the ice. The player I personally am pushing for some top 6 time is Czarnik. He is playing with a chip on his shoulder and at least in my eyes has really advanced his game. #giveczarnikachance.

    • Lazarus

      I would say he is weak on the puck and I too seem to see him picking himself up off the ice more than anything.
      FN likes the nicknames. I offer Chumbawamba for young Andrew, gets knocked down, gets up again..repeat

    • Luter 1

      Disagree, sure he gets knocked down but often still comes up with the puck, he is looking more comfortable and has a scoring pedigree that is slowly coming out. Neal never got knocked down because he couldn’t keep the puck for more than 2 seconds and wasn’t going to the tough areas where Mangiapane does.
      Dube same thing, was getting banged around, just needs to get more experience, came to easy in Junior for him. He’s another good one.
      Jankowski improving……see a pattern, young guys improving with further potential whereas Neal, Frolik, Brodie in decline.

    • Brian McGrattan's Salute

      Nah, he’s been getting about 2 or 3 real solid scoring chances on net per game. Keep in mind he’s on the forth line, which is used primarily for ‘energy shifts’. He has a wicked shot, and on a team that isn’t exactly filled with snipers. I think he’ll be fine.

      • HOCKEY83

        Nice…Brian McGrattan’s Salute…also he’s a first or second line talent who’s playing on a line with 2 guys that will never be better than 4th line talent and can barely keep up with what he’s doing. Which is why he’s always in the zone fighting for the puck falling down all by himself. The guy is a goal scorer. Put him on a line with talent and he will get the goals

  • Zalapski

    Mangiapane has impressed me. I used to find him week on the puck but he really does battle nicely along the boards. I could see his top 6 minutes working out. It’s nice to see Frolik demoted, he’s hard on the puck and a useful forward but he lacks playmaking or finishing ability.

    • JMK

      Frolik must be on his way out this summer. After getting sat and subsequent comments from agent, plus there reports he was to be included in the trade for Zucker.

    • HOCKEY83

      Frolic has a had a very mediocre 10th overall draft pick career. I think he’s less than .5 points per game career and never has had a great season. he is where he belongs now…on the 4th line.

  • The GREAT WW

    One way to manage your goaltender situation is to go with: “win and you are in”.

    We do the opposite; if a goalie had a crap game we give him the next start to regain his confidence….

    WW

      • Dunk

        Its called old age.
        He has lost some reaction time. For a goalie its devastating. His glove or 5 hole is a tad slower. That is why you don’t see any 45 year old goalies.

    • Rudy27

      Ya but Peters owes Rittich one for pulling him too early several games back (and coincidentally he hasn’t been BSD since). Maybe this vote of confidence gets him back on track.

      • Brian McGrattan's Salute

        Exactly. Its about handling Rittich’s confidence at this point. He has not indeed been the same since getting pulled that one game. Look for a solid game from him tomorrow.

        • Rudy27

          Listening to the sports commentators on the radio today, they were all in agreement that Peters never should have pulled after just two goals. BP is a god send compared to GG, but hey, everyone makes mistakes.

        • deantheraven

          Despite your hyperbole, some blame can rest with the coach who yanked him. All players, but especially Goalies, need to have their confidence. Maybe a confident guy like you hasn’t been on the wrong side of a loss, or ever felt his mojo slip. Perhaps this game will give us a story like that of your namesake, Lazarus.

    • JMK

      They like playing Smith against his old team Arizona, who they play the night after Vegas in the back-to-back. Wouldn’t read too much into Rittich getting the start after the loss (even though I’d like to see Rittich get a few more starts soon to get his confidence back prior to playoffs.)

  • BendingCorners

    Strange to see Brodie on the left. Kylington/Prout and Fantenberg/Brodie would seem more natural.
    Mango in the top six might create a sense of urgency in the rest them, and hopefully he is successful there.

  • Vinnsanity0412

    As long as Backlund is a second line center, then I do not believe this team has what it takes to go deep. I would like to see the team distribute their depth at center a little differently:
    Gaudreau – Mony – ?
    Tkachuk – Lindholm – ?
    Bennett – Backlund – ?
    ? – Ryan/Jankowski – ?
    Also, what’s up with Prout? Since Fantenberg arrived he is the forgotten man. I thought he had been playing quite well…

  • BendingCorners

    I agree with our cloud-walking canine friend though, Gaudreau and Monahan should be split up. They just don’t seem to be in sync and Monahan has a hard time keeping up. I would also like to see Lazar instead of Czarnik – he is fast and can hit, and plays better defensively. Even if all he does is dig out pucks for whatever playmakers and scorers are on his line, he should be useful.

  • Korcan

    Overall, i like the changes. Mangi on the second line could prove huge. Same goes for Tkachuk on the top line, though on the previous occasions those three showed they can be a real tire fire in their own end.

    I’m glad to see Brodie switched with Andersson. Brodie, for whatever reason, is faltering and recently has played more like a 5/6 than a 1/2. Andersson is the #2 of the future so they might as well see if he can rise to the occasion now.

    As for Prout, he has been fine in his last couple of appearances and definitely provides some deterant to Vegas’ 4th line taking liberties. In future games, i would be interested in seeing a Fantenburg/Brodie 3rd pairing.

    Imo, now that they have Fantenburg, i would like for the Flames to assign Kylington to the Heat and have him play top minutes in all situations (along with Valimaki) for the remainder of the season. Fantenburg has shown himself to be a good, steady bottom pair dman, so the Flames won’t be downgrading their d-core by playing him. Especially once Stone’s conditioning stint is over, the Flames simply have too many d in Calgary.

    Finally, glad to see Rittich back in net (hopefully). I believe the team is better with him in net over Smitty. If he is going to be the goalie of the future then Peters needs to show faith in him now.

  • Off the wall

    Tkachuk and Gaudreau hasn’t been a good mix. Coupled with Monahan it’s going to be a slow line.

    How about some speed on the 1st?

    Gaudreau- Lindholm- Czarnik
    Tkachuk- Monahan- Jankowski
    Mangiapane – Backlund – Bennett
    Frolik- Ryan- Hathaway

    I like the D configuration.

    You’ve got 2 Centre men who can take draws on each line1-3.
    Ryan does a splendid job on his own.

    Line 2 is big and heavier.

    Line 3 is shut down.

    Line 4- energy and speed

    That’s my humble opinion…

    • calgaryfan

      I would really like to see Lindholm at center with Gaudreau, and also have wanted to see Jankowski on the wing. There are enough centers on the team to try your plan. Do you have BP cell number?

      • Luter 1

        Johnny, Mony and Byng is not a line that you want in our end of the ice. None are proficient defensive players. Byng struggles with defenceman pinching and the reason the our #1 line got split up is Lindholms unbelievable hustle and defensive play had disappeared somewhat. Injured? …..possibly but he isn’t playing the same game right now.
        I like Mang getting a shot on the second

    • wot96

      Not that I agree, necessarily, but why not put Monahan on the left with Janks at Centre and Tkachuk on RW. Then at least you have two players who play or have played in the position they are in fairly recently.

      I am beginning to think that whatever advantage Monahan may have on the dot, his defensive awareness is sufficiently poor that he should probably be on a wing, preferably with a strong center. He is going to go the slot anyway so I don’t see him playing out of position as an issue.

  • Inglewood

    Bottom line is that in the games we’ve lost, were being to cute with the puck, not baring down when we have scoring chances, and not getting enough pucks on net. Example being last night, Czarnik has a glorious opportunity at the side of the net and needs to find a way to bury that. Then his breakaway down 1 is another example of baring down and burying. Leafs come back and score and it’s 2-0 instead of 1-1.

    The rest of the game the Leafs continued to throw everything on net, and unlucky for us, the got the bounces. Those are the bounces that win you playoff games. Brody at the end of the second period is a prime example of what were doing wrong. Instead of getting that puck on net he try’s a back door pass that ends up in the corner. Basics!! Pucks on net, and bare the *bleep* down.

    • Flamesforever

      This year has been great so far but I can’t help but think it’s just the prequel of what’s to come. Some changes still need to be made (Brodie traded for picks, Frolik traded for picks, Dube takes Froliks roster spot Valimaki takes Brodie’s) we have a bright future folks! GFG ?

    • wot96

      There were so many bad passes and, in fairness, great anticipation by the leafs that the outcome was practically guaranteed unless anderson has a bad game. All the energy in the world doesn’t help if you are floating weak passes across the ice that get intercepted regularly. Gio was right – Flames were poor on details.

      • Albertabeef

        Energy? I was listening to the game on the radio and turned it off at 3-0 because the crowd sounded like a leafs home game when they scored. Flames were certainly not getting energy from the crowd that’s for sure. Just like it always does when the leafs come to town. For many decades I have hated leaf visits to the dome. Turncoat backstabbing bandwagoning closet leaf fans in Calgary make me want to puke!!! F@ck the leafs! I had a chance to meet Mats Sundin and gave it up. Well my coworker begged me to switch with HER, so whatever. Give me Willie Plett and Eric Vail any day, those guys were too much fun 🙂 I HATE THE LEAFS!!!! Vent over.

        • slapshot444

          What I want to know is how do they get so many lower bowl tickets? When the Oil come to town all the sweatpants-wearing fans sit up top cause you can get tickets there, makes sense, but for the lower bowl to go blue, beats me.

          • Albertabeef

            Actually it’s from all the head offices that moved to Calgary from the late 70’s and on. People like our wonderful ex PM Mr Harper who say they are “Calgarian through and through” were born and raised in T.O.(or the area). There are also a lot of east coast Maritimer people in Cowtown who are massive Maple Laugh fans.

  • Flamethrower

    Just not tough enough. The road is going to get rougher so someone needs to step up they were beat on almost all battles along the boards and to much time and space for Toronto.

    • Luter 1

      Agree, exactly what I was concerned with not having a big banging forward to upset the flow like the Leafs had going. Not a hard enough/tough enough forecheck, Bennett and Hathaway needed to do a little more hitting.

  • theartfuldodger

    Eat bread played very well last night. I also thought Frolik was hustling and Janko and Benny too.. How is Monohan on the upswing again? I would like to see more compete from him.

      • MRL

        I’ve agreed with the sentiment for the last couple seasons. It was a key position for former cup champs and is for teams with aspirations of winning a championship and I struggle to see Monahan putting a team
        on his back especially when the going gets tough. He has an execellent shot/release however he’s very pedestrian otherwise.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    The best lines in hockey have been broken up at some point so I don’t see an issue splitting up the dynamic duo when they are not clicking….and they are not clicking.

    I agree with trying Janko between Johnny and Lindholm. Janko is more defensively aware than Monny. If he struggles in the dot we have Lindholm to take some of the heavy lifting. Janko has the speed. and creativity to keep up with his new wingers. His zone entries have improved and his puck protection would serve the line well. Johnny leads the team in goals yet he is a premiere playmaker so put him with players that can shoot.

    If this experiment works it spreads the scoring and provides the necessary balance.
    Line 1
    Johnny-Janko-Lindholm
    Line 2
    Bennett-Backlund-Tkachuk
    Line 3
    Mangi-Monny-Czarnik
    Line 4
    Hathaway-Ryan-Frolik

  • freethe flames

    Not that long ago many people on this site had given up on Mangiapane but my line was and remains that his progression is right on track and that his progression reminds me of Byron’s. This just another step in his progression. If it does not work Blender Bill will change the lines quick enough but what if it works and he steps his game up. Tkachuk moves to the top line and it clicks and gets rolling again(lots of ozone starts in it’s future), Backs’ new line will still be able to do it’s two way job, the Janko line is still going things and the Ryan line probably just got better defensively adding FRolik. If this works out then it make sit easier to move Frolik in the off season.