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Flames Have The Best Line In The NHL Right Now

Calgary Flames forwards Blake Coleman, Mikael Backlund and Andrew Mangiapane form the best line in the NHL according to advanced stats – even that Boston Bruins one.



The Calgary Flames lost two thirds of the best line in the league last year. 

Johnny Gaudreau left for Columbus. Matthew Tkachuk headed for south Florida. 

Elias Lindholm is all that remains of the trio, which featured three 40-goal scorers and a pair of 100-point performers. 

But since their pre-Christmas California road swing, the Flames have a line that has eclipsed even the Perfection Line boasted by the Boston Bruins. 

Tops in expected goals for — a stat that means they create way more chances than they allow when they’re on the ice — and at or near the pinnacle of many other advanced metrics that suggest they’re really, really good, the reunited threesome of Blake Coleman, Mikael Backlund and Andrew Mangiapane is the NHL’s best line nobody is talking about. 

Except, of course, in Calgary. 

Coleman has been getting most of the attention thanks to a pair of goals and three points in his last five games. Including the game-winner in the 4-1 win over the New York Islanders on Friday at the Saddledome. 

But they’re all getting good looks and each have the same three-point totals in the last handful of outings. 

“It’s helped playing with Backs and Mang,” Coleman told reporters after beating the Isles. 

“I think they bring out the best in me and the way that I need to play, because they play a similar game. They play hard; they forecheck. If we look at our game, it’s simple but it’s hard. We generate a lot of our offence off turnovers.”

The trio — the best line the Flames iced in the playoffs last spring — has only translated their checking and chances into offensive production the past five games but have showed signs of a breakout for a few before that as well after being united again in San Jose. 

Since then, Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter said he likes what he’s seen from Coleman. 

“He’s back to the foundation of his game,” he said Friday. “A little more dirt, a little more grit and a little stronger on pucks.”

Coleman had said a couple of weeks ago he was going to have a bonfire to the hockey gods to help get some results. 

“I cancelled the bonfire,” he said with a laugh. “The opportunities were there. In my game, there’s more concern when the opportunities aren’t there.”

He made a more concerted effort to move aggressively to the net, but aside from that, not much has changed. 

Backlund has been one of the more consistent Calgary Flames players this season and is on pace for his first 40-point season since 2019-20. 

At his current clip, Mangiapane may barely hit 35 points after scoring 35 goals last season. But he could just as easily get on a hot streak on the next road trip and come home with another handful to go with the eight goals he’s got so far. 

The chances are there. And other teams are scoring much on them either. Not much more you can ask for from a third line. 

Some would argue it’s the first. 

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