The best version of the 3M line is with Andrew Mangiapane

From Lance Bouma to Paul Byron, it has been a trend for years that players who have played alongside Mikael Backlund have looked noticeably better. Last week, we wrote about how Andrew Mangiapane is probably the best option to play alongside Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk. Several readers wrote back on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and on our blog to say that Mangiapane may be receiving a bump playing alongside the other two. Let’s take a deeper dive into that at 5v5. All data is courtesy of our friends at Natural Stat Trick.

Corsi For

CF%With MangiapaneWithout MangiapaneMangiapane without player
Mikael Backlund51.855.852.6
Matthew Tkachuk55.453.849.4

In terms of CF%, it is absolutely true that Mangiapane has stronger possession numbers alongside Tkachuk and Backlund. With Backlund, he has a CF% of 51.8% and with Tkachuk he holds a 55.4%. On the other hand, while he is away from both players he has a 52.6% and 49.4% CF respectively.

This is most likely attributed to the fact that Mangiapane has benefited playing alongside better players. What is interesting is looking at the duo away from Mangiapane. Backlund looks a bit better, but Tkachuk looks noticeably worse with a CF% of 53.9%. This is a key indicator that Mangiapane is positively impacting Tkachuk’s offense, even while Tkachuk is playing on his off-wing.

Goals For

GF%With MangiapaneWithout MangiapaneMangiapane Without Player
Backlund60.035.754.6
Tkachuk62.540.053.9

Looking at goals for, both Tkachuk and Backlund have scored more with Mangiapane on their wing than with anyone else. With Mangiapane on their wing, they are on the ice for more goals for than when they are apart. Backlund and Mangiapane were on the ice for six goals for and four against, and Tkachuk and Mangiapane were on the ice for five goals for and only three against at even strength.

The original intent with the 3M last season with Frolik was to have an elite shutdown line. That is not the case this season. The iteration of 3M with Frolik has been bleeding goals and not scoring enough to make up for it. Although the original 3M’s CF% is hovering around 50%, they have struggled to keep the puck out of their own net. While this is with a small sample size, it is interesting to see a trend emerging over 20+ games.

High Danger Chances

HDCF%With MangiapaneWithout MangiapaneMangiapane without Player
Backlund57.149.050.0
Tkachuk63.049.143.6

As was seen in the first moments of the 3-1 loss to Dallas, Tkachuk set up Mangiapane right in front of the net only to be robbed by Ben Bishop. This line has looked dynamite together and has accounted for a number of excellent scoring chances since being reunited.

Their high danger chances as a line are unparalleled. Both Backlund and Tkachuk see impressive jumps in HDCF% when playing with Mangiapane; in fact Mangiapane brings both above the 50% mark. Mangiapane away from Tkachuk has a 43.6% HDCF likely a result of playing depth minutes and not relied upon to score in those situations.

Expected goals for

xGF%With MangiapaneWithout MangiapaneMangiapane Without Player
Backund52.151.353.9
Tkachuk58.051.347.2

This is where the data really gets interesting. Not only does Mangiapane help the second line score more actual goals, it also has a higher likelihood of scoring. The data shows this is not just a fluke, but that the line is more dangerous offensively and is generating more chances.

Together, this line is significantly more dangerous than with Frolik on their wing . Not to mention, having Mangiapane on their wing improves the offensive chances that both Backlund and Tkachuk have.

While Mangiapane looks worse without the other two, particularly Tkachuk, he role in the bottom six isn’t necessarily to score goals. When he is placed in an offensive role with a budding superstar like Tkachuk, there’s reason to believe that Mangiapane might actually elevate Tkachuk’s game as well.

What does it all come down to?

Does Mangiapane receive a bump from playing alongside Tkachuk and Backlund? Absolutely. But Backlund and Tkachuk both look more dangerous offensively with Mangiapane. Not only that, they have been more defensively sound, and have been better at keeping the puck in the offensive zone.

An offensive star in both the AHL with Stockton, and in Junior with the Barrie Colts, Mangiapane may be the offensive threat that Tkachuk needs to take his game to the next level, and to turn the second line into an additional offensive weapon in Bill Peters’ arsenal. If there’s one thing the Flames need desperately right now it’s goal scoring. This could be the line to break the dam open.


What are your thoughts on Andrew Mangiapane so far this season? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo by: Sergei Beleski / USA Today