Spotting the tiniest of gaps between Oliver Kylington and Alex Yelesin, Andrew Mangiapane cut hard between the young duo at the blue line with an eye on making the rare split.
Managed to find the light of day – and the puck – on the other side, Mangiapane was quickly downed in front of the end zone, doing well to earn his team a power play.
This one came in Monday night’s intra-team game, but Flames fans can expect a lot more daring from the 24-year-old.
After all, the third-year winger who started last season on the fourth row and almost finished his 20-goal debut campaign will tell you he’s about to make another equally monumental leap.
“Every time I’m on the ice I feel confident enough now that I can be an elite player in this league,” said the 5-10, 185-pound Toronto native, with a conviction that defies to be a sixth-round draft pick.
“It was kind of a breakout season for me. I always believed I could be one of the top six players in this league and last year I think I proved it.
He did so despite his late arrival at camp following a contractual stalemate that left him with a substantive deal with a lot to prove.
Playing alongside Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk for most of the past year, Mangiapane has helped make the team’s stop line the team’s best line on both ends.
And with the confidence it has given him – not to mention a two-year contract extension for $ 4.85 million this summer – he feels he is capable of continuing an unlikely trajectory in the direction of his childhood hero, Martin St. Louis.
An undrafted walk-on with OHL’s Barrie where he scored 51 goals his last year, proving people wrong was his forte.
“I think I have more to show,” said Mangiapane, who scored 17 evenly goals before the season was shortened by COVID-19.
“It’s one of the toughest seasons I’ve coached. Come in with confidence and believe in your game. Every year I believe in myself and believe that I can be a better player in the league and that’s what I’m working towards. Now I just have to go out there and be consistent with that.
He will likely do it with Backlund on his side, as part of the three pair, coach Geoff Ward has kept together throughout camp. The other two are Johnny Gaudreau / Sean Monahan and Tkachuk / Elias Lindholm.
In Monday night’s final intra-squad match, Backlund and Mangiapane teamed up with debutant Josh Leivo, proving himself dangerous on several occasions, including a Mangiapane breakaway that was dramatically stopped by David Rittich.
As part of his continued growth and importance to the team, Mangiapane killed penalties alongside Sam Bennett on Monday – a further wrinkle for the youngster who has scored almost a point per game through three-stint games in the AHL along the way.
The work of special teams has rarely been a part of his duties, which is about to change as he will be part of the second power play unit he was in sight on Monday.
Mangiapane capped off a good night by being the only one to score in a three-on-three game late in the evening.
NOTES DE SCRIMMAGE:
• Dillon Dube was the first Flame to be traded this year, changing shirts several times Monday night just to be able to work the wall on team Iginla’s power play unit (the team’s second unit) with Mark Giordano, Milan Lucic, Backlund and Mangiapane.
• Welcome to the big leagues, Connor Zary.
Monday’s scrum was the only chance for the three Flames returning hopefuls to compete against the greats.
Playing on the left side alongside Buddy Robinson and Derek Ryan, Zary got a good close shot on Jacob Markstrom before the 19-year-old was dropped on his keister by Michael Stone at the end of the play.
• Jakob Pelletier played alongside Brett Ritchie and Glenn Gawdin, showing a lot of jumping and speed, but very few touches.
• Rittich played all 60 minutes for the win – his second in two full scrum starts. Markstrom gave way to Louis Domingue in the middle of the game, allowing two goals.
• Rittich said Monday he has yet to meet with the coaches to discuss how the goaltender workload will be handled this year with Markstrom. The plus / minus appears to be set at somewhere between 35 and 40 starts for Markstrom in a 56-game schedule sabotaged in 114 days.
• Team McDonald took the 3-2 victory – and took home a trophy at the end of the match – thanks to goals from Lindholm, Gaudreau and a shorthanded finish from Noah Hanifin, who fulfilled his stated desire earlier within a week to act on his instinct to join the rush over. Mangiapane and Adam Ruzicka scored for the Iginla team.
• Don’t be surprised if Dominik Simon gets the plum, opening night assignment alongside Gaudreau and Monahan. Lots of speed, tenacity and skill to keep pace.
• Veteran center Ryan was one of nearly 100 NHL players who were waived Monday ahead of Tuesday’s 5 pm roster deadline. As helpful as the 34-year-old center has been in Calgary over the past two years, he’s unlikely to be hooked as he earns $ 3.125 million as the fourth row. He was joined by Oliver Kylington and Zac Rinaldo. Kylington is more likely to be arrested as the 23-year-old defenseman earns $ 787,500 and is a brilliant skater, who still can’t prove to the Flames that he is an everyday player in the NHL. Those who pass waivers on Tuesday morning will be able to move freely from the taxi squad or minors for 30 days. Teams are expected to regularly navigate between players to save space and these moves help open that door.
All three played in last night’s scrum.
• Other candidates for the Flames’ first taxi team who passed the waivers on Monday morning include forwards Robinson and Byron Froese, defenseman Alex Petrovic and goalkeeper Domingue.
• Lots of excitement with Emilio Pettersen in both scrimmages, including working Monday alongside Adam Ruzicka and Matthew Phillips, who are all destined to be Stockton’s best players once the AHL starts on February 5.
• Interesting lines as the team decided to spend the last four minutes of the game playing three on three: Mangiapane / Backlund / Rasmus Andersson against Gaudreau / Monahan / Juuso Valimaki.
The second set saw Leivo / Bennett / Giordano against Lindholm / Tkachuk / Hanifin.
MONDAY NIGHT LINES