Flames’ Fourth Line Swings Playoff Opener

The Calgary Flames began their 2019 Stanley Cup playoff journey with Game 1 against the Colorado Avalanche. They won 4-0, capturing their first post-season victory since 2015.

Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane
Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane scored the game-winner in Game 1 against the Colorado Avalanche. (Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

The game-winning goal was scored by a fourth line player that was still in junior the last time the Flames won a playoff game. As expected, the Flames’ depth was the difference – with a pair of late second period shifts from the fourth line turning the tide.

25 Good Seconds Turn Into a Goal

By ice time, the Flames fourth line over the second half of the regular season has been Derek Ryan, Andrew Mangiapane and Garnet Hathaway. Their calling card has been their energetic fore-check, which was on display in Game 1 against the Avalanche.

Joining Ryan and Hathaway on the ice to complete a delayed line change late in the second period with the score tied at zero, Mangiapane collected a loose puck and drove the net, eventually depositing a backhand shot past a sprawling Philipp Grubauer to give the Flames a 1-0 lead. Including the delayed change, the shift lasted 25 seconds – Mangiapane was on the ice for nine seconds before he scored.

“It was a good forecheck,” described Mangiapane of the play leading to his goal. “[Hathaway] got in there, took his hands away. The puck was sitting there for me, I had space and took it to the net. It was a nice play by [Ryan] in front tying him up and screening the goalie, and I just wanted to bring it to my backhand. Saw open ice there, and I’m just happy it went in.”

The goal was Mangiapane’s first goal in his first playoff game.

21 Good Seconds Turn Into a Power Play

The trio gave the Flames a bit of insurance on their very next shift in the late second period. Ryan lost a face-off to Derick Brassard but his line generated a turnover with their fore-check which kept the puck in the Avalanche zone. A few moments later Hathaway hit a crossbar with a shot from the slot and then drew a holding penalty on Avalanche defender Patrik Nemeth in front of the net.

“Real good stretch for those guys on that play, too,” assessed Flames head coach Bill Peters following the game. “[Hathaway] hit the crossbar… [Oscar Fantenberg] made a real good play to get it down to [Mangiapane] at the bottom, and then they won some battles down low”

Ryan, Mangiapane and Hathaway ceded the ice to the power play, which scored off a Matthew Tkachuk tip-in to give the Flames a 2-0 lead. After lagging behind at times in Game 1 due to taking too many penalties, the Flames got a big scoring and energy boost from their depth players.

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

In 43 regular season games together, the Flames’ depth trio has developed a reputation for being a difference-maker. Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar admitted that he had made lineup adjustments prior to Game 1 to mimic that grouping – though he didn’t use them much due to some lineup shuffling.

“We know that Calgary has got a fourth line that helps them win,” said Bednar. “They’re gritty and they’re hard on pucks. I wanted to have a similar fourth line with [Gabriel] Bourque and [Matt] Calvert there. Basically, we started juggling the lines halfway through the game ’cause I didn’t feel like we had some guys that were contributing as much as they should have.”

The Flames’ fourth line played 6:04 at even strength (via Natural Stat Trick), while the Avalanche got out for just 2:31. Ultimately, the Ryan, Mangiapane and Hathaway trio were among the most effective on the ice and decided Game 1 for the Flames when it was up for grabs.

“That’s our game,” said Mangiapane. “When we get in there and cause turnovers on the fore-check.”