The Calgary Flames dropped their second straight one goal decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs last night, falling 4-3. Like the last, it was a tough loss, with the Flames resembling molasses in the first period, and never mustering enough to overcome their sticky start.
Their record now stands at 2-2-1, unimpressive and good for second last in the division. It’s not the start they wanted, and probably isn’t the start they deserve. With a five game road trip ahead, with a two game set against the second place Montreal Canadiens and a three game set against the third place Winnipeg Jets, the Flames have their work cut out for them.
It hasn’t been all bad, though. There have definitely been bright spots through this mediocre start, including stellar and consistent play from Jacob Markstrom, solid defensive efforts from Chris Tanev, the reignition of Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, and Matthew Tkachuk being an absolute angel, as always.
One player who doesn’t get nearly enough credit is Andrew Mangiapane. He has picked up right where he left off last season, proving to everyone that he belongs in the top six of an NHL roster and that he can make a difference every single shift.
This is an Andrew Mangiapane appreciation post.
5v5 On ice
Through five games, Mangiapane is among the Flames leaders in almost every major statistical category, from ice time, Corsi, scoring chances, expected goals; you name it. If it’s a good stat, chances are Mangiapane is near the top of the list. Here are his on ice numbers at 5v5 among all forwards who have played all five games for the Flames.
The most incredible part of Mangiapane’s on ice stats so far is that he’s not leading the team in all of them. Obviously this is a small sample size, and there’s no guarantee that he’ll maintain these percentages for the whole season, but what Mangiapane has done through a .500 start is exceptional.
It’s one thing to drive possession, but to dominate scoring chances and high danger chances at the rate that Mangiapane is doing it is really good news for the Flames. Whenever Mangiapane is on the ice, the Flames have taken it to their opponents, penetrating the defense and creating legit scoring opportunities.
Even on the expected goals side, Mangiapane is creating almost 2.5 times the expected goals as his on ice opponents, something that is a good indicator of sustained success.
The only area that isn’t going well is the conversion of these chances. Currently, Mangiapane’s on ice goals for percentage is zero; he hasn’t been on the ice for a 5v5 goal for and has been on the ice for one against. This has to change. With the way Mangiapane and his line mates are dictating play, that ratio will change in short order, he just needs to keep doing what he’s doing.
When a player has excellent percentages near the top of the team, it begs the question of who is the real reason for those ratios. Is Mangiapane the reason for his success or is he simply on the ice with better players and riding coat tails? Here are his individual numbers at 5v5 among all forwards who have played all five games for the Flames.
Once again, Mangiapane is at the top of almost every category. His 16 individual corsi attempts are second most on the team, 16 scoring chances fourth on the team, and four high danger chances fourth as well. Not only is Mangiapane on the ice for more chances for than against, he’s the one taking those shots for the Flames.
Of the 3.01 xGF Mangiapane has been on the ice for, his 0.79 ixGF makes up 26% of that total. Considering he’s one of five Flames skaters on the ice, that’s a pretty solid chunk.
Even looking at non scoring stats, Mangiapane is making a difference. Again looking at all forwards who have played five games this season, his two minor penalties drawn are the most on the team, his five takeaways are the most on the team, and his three blocks are first on the team. Offense, defense, transition; Mangiapane is excelling at everything.
However, Mangiapane has nothing to show for it on the scoresheet. He has yet to register a 5v5 point, let along a goal, despite having multiple incredible chances in what seems like every game. He’ll start scoring and when he does, he might never stop.
The last thing that Mangiapane deserves recognition for is his versatility and ability to play up and down the lineup without seeing a drop in his play. The Flames have dressed 13 forwards this season in total. Mangiapane has played with every single one of the other 12 at 5v5 (he has one second of shared ice time with Dominik Simon, but hey, it counts).
Of those 12 forwards, 10 have a better CF%, 11 have a better SCF%, and all 12 have a better HDCF% when they play with Mangiapane. All 12 also see a higher xGF% when they line up with Mangiapane compared to when they don’t.
Mangiapane’s most common line mates have been Elias Lindholm and Tkachuk, and both have higher stats across the board when their other winger is Mangiapane. That line has been incredible for the Flames and, when Dillon Dube returns to the lineup, it’s probably wise to leave the Mangiapane line alone.
5v5 dominance isn’t new for Mangiapane. He was one of the Flames’ best 5v5 players last season and he’s just getting better each and every game. Currently, Mangiapane is playing on the team’s second powerplay unit, and has done fairly well in that role. That’s the next step for Mang, continuing to grow on the powerplay.
If he can continue to own the ice at 5v5, the Flames will be able to control their matchups more often than not. He’s a player to watch and the Flames are lucky to have him on their roster.
Hopefully the whole team can rebound against Montreal on Thursday and Mangiapane will be a big part of getting the Flames back on track.