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Sutter shuffles Flames lines, wants more from young players

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Calgary Flames Andrew Mangiapane

Tuesday’s lines in Calgary Flames practice opened some eyes, and the Calgary Flames lines got a good jostle. 

Head coach Darryl Sutter doesn’t like to number them, but the movement from top to bottom showed that he’s still trying to figure out how to get the best out of some of his players.

After making a pair of errors that contributed to the Anaheim Ducks’ comeback win on Monday, Sean Monahan found himself skating between Milan Lucic and Trevor Lewis. Newly healthy Tyler Pitlick skated alongside Mikael Backlund and Blake Coleman, while the top trio of Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk remained intact.

That meant a new partner for pals Dillon Dube and Andrew Mangiapane. Dillon shifted to centre and Brett Ritchie joined them on the flank.

Sutter talked about Dube’s move back to centre and the desire for more from Monahan, Dube and Mangiapane.

“That line didn’t have much impact in the games,” Sutter said. “We need those guys to be better players. I think that’s part of the growth, or development, of Dillon, to be able to play three positions, because he’s still got to find where he fits on the team.”

Swiss army knife Dube still seeking steady linemates with the Flames

Just last week, Dube talked about playing centre during the preseason and being a versatile piece for the team.

“Since I’ve been playing here, I haven’t really had a steady line,” said Dube just ahead of the Calgary Flames season. “So just being up and down, wherever I can play, whatever two guys I’m playing with, I’m trying to make them better.”

Although Sutter wants to see more from them, Dube and Mangiapane have developed some chemistry. Offensively, they combined for 11 shots in the home opener and have 19 in their two games. Neither hit the scoresheet on Monday night despite dominating the shot count.

They looked pretty good in the preseason, too, with Dube down the middle.

“I think overall it was good. With Mange on my wing for most of it, I think we’ve created some good chemistry,” Dube said. “He makes it a lot easier for me with that speed up the ice. He’s so hard on the puck – he’s relentless. He creates so much offence from his work ethic. He holds a lot of pucks in the (offensive) zone so you’re playing a lot more of a possession game with him. It’s easy to read off that when a guy is just hunting all the time and creating a lot of turnovers.

“I hope we can make something of it.”

Mangiapane may be the perfect pairing

The two have been through a lot together, rooming together in Penticton as prospects and watching each other swing up and down from the minors to the NHL before both graduated to full-time roles.

“It’s pretty cool to be able to play with each other. I think we’ve got another gear … but it’s been awesome,” Dube said. “We work well together and we’re really good friends, so it helps out on the ice.”

Speaking of ice, Dube took notice when someone in the Saddledome crowd hucked a massive loaf of bread (debate still rages as to whether it was garlic or not) before puck drop in honour of Mangiapane. Mangiapane’s Italian last name translates into ‘eat bread’ and although the league already has a superstar Bread Man in Antemi Panarin, the local one is a Calgary Flames fan favourite who added to his growing profile with an incredible performance for Canada in the last world hockey championship. 

“There were some crumbs and everything. That was a shocker, but we were all laughing,” Dube said. “I thought it was pretty funny. It might have been baked with some cheese or something.

“It looked good.”

Coaches and fans are all hoping they can say the same about Dube and Mangiapane in the next game.

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