McKenna: How Andrew Mangiapane’s good habits led to an explosion of goals


Calgary Flames forward Andrew Mangiapane has some habits. Good habits.

Coaches use the word to the point of cliché. And despite its ambiguity, every player knows what that means.

Habits are what define you as a hockey player. It’s what makes or breaks you in the eyes of management. And they are almost impossible to hide.

On the eve of the 2021-22 NHL season, Andrew Mangiapane had already established himself as a quality depth scorer. In the previous two seasons, he has found the back of the net 35 times in 124 games.

It’s a good start for a young career. But so far this season, the 25-year-old has taken his game to the next level. Mangiapane has scored 16 goals in just 23 games and is tied with Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers for third in the NHL.

That rating pace far exceeds the current $ 2.425 million contract he’s playing on. Mangiapane is set to become a restricted free agent after this season, but Flames general manager Brad Treliving has indicated he is keen to keep his top scorer in Calgary.

“We’ve had a lot of dialogue with his rep,” Treliving said on Friday’s episode of The DFO Rundown Hockey Podcast with Frank Seravalli and Jason Gregor. “We see him as a really important part of our team going forward. We will continue to work throughout this process.

“We definitely know we have some work to do with Andrew,” Treliving continued. “We’ll be focusing on whatever he does on the ice and quietly working on the business behind the scenes and hopefully at some point we’ll do something about it. « 

So what is behind Mangiapane’s improved gameplay? Habits. Stubborn habits.

He’s got this dog on a bone mentality. Mangiapane goes strong at the net and does not pick up. The puck finds him.

I know these goals aren’t particularly glamorous. But take a closer look at the work and awareness it takes for Mangiapane to score.

He fends off Washington Capitals forward Lars Eller and takes two big strides towards the net. Mangiapane is working on positioning. And it’s impressive how quickly he lifts the puck over Capitals goaltender Vitek Vanecek.

In the clip against the New York Rangers, pay attention to how Mangiapane provides secondary support during the faceoff. If he doesn’t win the battle and the run to the puck, it doesn’t. may have never reached Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson, who has his wrist right next to it. Mangiapane is perfectly placed to score.

Against the Detroit Red Wings, Mangiapane stops in the slot and deposits change on the backhand. This is something that I heard the coaches insist over and over when I was playing. Stop at the net. Good habits. Be strong in front.

So against the Edmonton Oilers, Mangiapane heads behind the net but intelligently decides to slam on the brakes and reverse. The puck finds him up front and he’s able to quickly hit the puck on the blade of his stick and score on the backhand. It’s a really skillful game and Mangiapane made it easy.

Not all players are comfortable picking up pucks off their feet or using their backhand. But that doesn’t bother Mangiapane.

What I find so impressive about this series of clips is how adept Mangiapane is at changing the angle of the shot without handling the puck too much. It’s a quick movement before the puck leaves its blade. He is both aware of his surroundings and direct in his attack. For me, this is a sign that Mangiapane is thinking of the game at a high level.

But sometimes it is enough to work.

Driving the puck into the net for the San Jose Sharks. Using his body to protect two New Jersey defensemen before scoring the opening goal on Devils goaltender Nico Daws. Mangiapane may only be 5 feet 10 inches tall and weigh 184 pounds, but his limited physical size isn’t a factor. He competes.

And according to Treliving, his work ethic is exceptional.

« It’s a great example of what hard work does, » said the Flames general manager. “He’s a guy who went through a draft and was sort of counted at every level he’s been. He continues to work on his game every day. If you’re with our team, he’s usually the last one on the ice, whether it’s training or a morning skate. So it’s really good to see him get the success and the results he gets.

Mangiapane’s training habits really shine when you consider the number of deflection goals he has scored so far this season.

These goals require incredible hand-eye coordination. The puck is moving over 90 miles per hour and Mangiapane regularly puts his stick blade on it. It takes hours of practice to become proficient at swinging pucks.

It is a skill that players must develop at their own pace. In regular practice, there aren’t many opportunities to deflect the pucks. But once training is over, players are free to work on their own. And as Treliving said, Mangiapane is regularly one of the last players off the ice.

It’s a good habit to have. And Mangiapane has plenty.

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