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Mangiapane, Monahan may get boost with Flames shakeup



Calgary Flames Dillon Dube Jack Eichel

The Calgary Flames lines at the morning skate in Montreal got a lot of attention.

Teaming Sean Monahan and Andrew Mangiapane with Blake Coleman is the kind of thing that will be talked about right up to puck drop when the Flames take on the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night at the Bell Centre.

It’s the kind of talk head coach Darryl Sutter expects from the outer circle. But after the disappointing third period in the 4-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks this week, it’s a move he pulled off earlier than even he anticipated.

He foreshadowed the potential for change before the Sharks game when asked about sticking with the lines during the point streak.

“Next week if we don’t have a good start to the trip, I guarantee the questions will be, ‘Well, he’s got the lines all split up again, what the hell is going on?’” Sutter said this week.

Instead, the masses seem to have respond with excited anticipation. The Blake Coleman, Sean Monahan, Andrew Mangiapane trio may answer the oft-asked question: When we can expect to see more five-on-five Mangiapane minutes?

The Calgary Flames’ top goal scorer this season averaged just 11:17 of even-strength ice time per game heading into Thursday’s contest.

It was the Mangiapane Mystery

Sutter clearly likes the relentless winger, deploying Mangiapane in all situations. But even with some regular time on both the backup units for the powerplay and penalty kill, Mangiapane still found himself 15th on the team with 14:42 on average overall.

And the truth is, even this new grouping may not lead to more minutes. Sutter doesn’t define his lines with numbers – outside, perhaps, of the Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm, Matthew Tkachuk combo. Behind the undisputed top line, the others see their minutes spread out depending on how the game is unfolding.

Being tied to his ride-or-die teammate Dillon Dube is one likely factor for the lack of even-strength minutes. Dube has been going through the growing pains of becoming a responsible centre this season. That means being trusted for more faceoffs in the offensive zone.

Dube and Mangiapane are ranked one and two in OZ percentage on the team at 62.9% and 58.8% respectively.

Calgary Flames’ new look sees Dube shifted back to wing

Dube was shuffled to the left wing on Thursday, with centre Mikael Backlund and right flanker Trevor Lewis.

Milan Lucic, Brad Richardson and Tyler Pitlick rounded out the forward ranks.

But we all know the lines could be back to the previous looks come game time. Or change during the action.

Sutter also reflected on the versatility to move things around having so many natural centres.

“That’s why you try to have as many centremen as you can. It’s the key position because centremen can move over to wing pretty easy and wingers can’t move to centre very easy,” Sutter said. “The more centremen you have, the more you can move guys around. That makes your team more efficient and usually more productive.”

We’ll find out soon whether the shakeup sticks, and if it works against the Habs.

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