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Andrew Mangiapane instrumental in Flames' hot start

·6-min read
Andrew Mangiapane continues to shine for the Calgary Flames early this season. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Andrew Mangiapane continues to shine for the Calgary Flames early this season. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

 

After putting up 51 points in 68 games with the Barrie Colts in his draft year and OHL rookie season, Andrew Mangiapane wasn’t selected in the 2014 NHL draft. The next season, Mangiapane put up 104 points with the Colts and was finally selected in the sixth round (166th overall) by the Calgary Flames.

Six years on, Mangiapane is one of the best early season stories and over the last few years has become a real analytical darling. It’s the beginning of November and the only NHL player with more goals than Mangiapane is Alexander Ovechkin, arguably the greatest goal scorer of all-time. Just like we’d all anticipated.

Mangiapane doesn’t have a single assist yet to go along with his seven tallies, which is funny but also pretty on-brand for him. Since the beginning of 2019, he has 42 goals and only 29 assists, with 24 of those assists being the primary helper. The generously listed 5-foot-10 winger hates secondary assists because secondary assists are for passengers to pad their stats. Realistically, Mangiapane’s points are almost exclusively primary because he does all his damage in tight to the net and isn’t all that heavily involved in transition.

<em>Via hockeyviz.com</em>
Via hockeyviz.com

The result is that Mangiapane is 12th in goal rate, 56th in primary assist rate and 321st in secondary assist rate at 5-on-5 since 2019 among the 329 players to play at least 1,000 minutes. Of his 59 5-on-5 points in that time, 56 of them are primary points. Mangiapane is also shooting 18.3% at 5-on-5 over that time, which is third in the league behind Brad Marchand and Andre Burakovsky, and 19% in all situations, putting him third behind only Leon Draisaitl and TJ Oshie. He’s also 2-for-2 on power-play shots this year. His heat map gives you a good idea of why he’s able to convert at such a high rate.

<em>Via hockeyviz.com</em>
Via hockeyviz.com

Despite his small stature, Mangiapane thrives in the tough areas of the ice, constantly creating shots from in tight to the net. The ability to not only create those chances, but convert on them at a high rate takes a certain mix of fearlessness, soft hands and good instincts, all of which Mangiapane has in droves. Take his first goal of the 2021-22 season for example, which came in the first game of the campaign.

Mangiapane starts the sequence off with a strong net drive that’s broken up, but the Flames retain possession and he doesn’t stray from the scoring area. Instead, he briefly goes below the goal line to provide his pinching defender an option to start the cycle down low. As he does so, Oilers defender Duncan Keith drifts up toward the hash-marks to defend Sean Monahan with his back to the net. Mangiapane sees this and the point shot coming, jumps back out in front behind Keith, provides the screen and tip before kicking the rebound to his stick and depositing it in the back of the net.

It’s a pretty typical goal for the 25-year-old winger from Toronto. In fact, four of his seven goals this year have occurred off rebounds, with one of them not technically being a rebound as it was a bounce off the end-boards, but functionally it’s the same thing.

While the majority of Mangiapane’s goals occur in a fashion similar to these, he also shows off his soft hands in different ways from time to time, like this breakaway goal where he deked Scott Wedgewood right out of his net.

His goal-scoring explosion has obviously drawn all the attention early this season, but arguably even more impressive has been his ability to drive play when he’s on the ice, all while facing tough competition. Simply put, the Flames are a much, much better team when Mangiapane is on the ice and it’s been this way for a few years now. His defensive impacts haven’t been good this season, but, given his history, it’s probably safe to chalk that up to an issue of small sample size for now.

Mangiapane is a relentless puck-hound at both ends of the ice, taking away great chances for the opponent and creating them for his teammates. In general, he’s just a real pain in the ass to play against and that shows itself in both the video and the data.

Unsurprisingly, his style of play lends itself to being reliant on the forecheck and the cycle, which leads to extended zone time and simultaneously keeps the puck 200 feet from his net and increases the chances that his team will be able to create a good chance themselves. Unlike a lot of players of this ilk, Mangiapane is lethal in these situations, not only able to maintain the cycle, but also consistently exploiting defences and creating good chances in these situations.

While takeaway stats should be taken with a grain of salt due to the arbitrary nature of how each rink’s scorekeeper tracks them, Mangiapane ranks 28th in takeaway rate at 5-on-5 among forwards since 2019, sandwiched between Marchand and Connor McDavid. This season he’s already scored two goals as a direct result of a takeaway.

Mangiapane’s in-your-face, smothering style also leads to him drawing a lot of penalties. While he takes some himself, his +15 penalty differential since 2019 puts him in a tie for 36th in that department, just behind the likes of Taylor Hall and Jonathan Huberdeau. It’s not a stat that gets brought up often, but consistently putting your team on the man advantage obviously has value considering teams generally score a goal on every four or five power-play chances, on average.

Despite his production and effectiveness in all situations, Mangiapane is only playing 14:30 minutes on average per game and is ninth among Flames forwards in 5-on-5 time on ice, playing as much as Milan Lucic. It seems it would be in the team’s best interest to find him a lot more ice as he’s one of the most consistently effective players they have.

Mangiapane won’t continue scoring on 35 percent of his shots, but given his history of converting at a high rate, his inevitable regression won’t hurt too much. Regardless, it’s impossible not to love the passion he plays the game with and his early season scoring explosion has been a delicious treat.

*data via evolving-hockey.com

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