In season of changes, Calgary Flames rely on the coherence of a line

If the newcomers want to see what being a Calgary Flame is all about, all they have to do is look at Backlund, Mangiapane and Coleman.

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The Calgary Flames have a lot of moving parts.

It has been a season of change, with players coming and going.

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But in the middle of it all is a line with Mikael Backlund in the center and Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman on either side of him.

And with so many new faces in the locker room and wearing Flames jerseys, that trio is more important than ever.

“They’re the line that when we need to start the game the right way, they start it,” Flames head coach Ryan Huska said last week. “When we need to change the momentum, they are the line that does it.

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“They have chemistry between the three of them and they understand how we have to play to be successful and they are good with that. “It’s nice to have three guys that have been together for so long and play well together.”

It’s no secret that the Coleman-Backlund-Mangiapane line has been excellent for the Flames for a few seasons now. They are relied upon to face their opponents’ best lines and superstar players and this year they have also been doing a lot of heavy lifting on the offensive end.

After a period where Mangiapane was separated from his linemates earlier in the year, they have been together for months and have arguably been the Flames’ most consistent and important line since.

And that consistency is as essential now as ever.

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With general manager Craig Conroy moving Elias Lindholm, Chris Tanev and Noah Hanifin about a month before the trade deadline, the Flames now feel like a completely different team than the one that started the season.

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Young people are being given opportunities. Players are being moved to bigger roles. Everyone tries to figure it all out on the fly.

And whatever the Flames’ goals are between now and the end of the season, having some veterans setting the tone can only be a good thing as the Flames begin to try to build toward a hopefully brighter future.

“It’s big, right? I think our line has played together for a long time and we know what we’re going to get from each other,” Mangiapane said. “We play against the big matchups and we just try to be consistent with our game. Obviously, there’s a lot of inconsistency in our room right now (because) the kids are new here and they’re moving. Left, right, center, everyone plays every position and is just trying to build chemistry somewhere.”

As the Flames figure out their new team, it can only help to have a trio of veterans playing together and setting the standard in the locker room and around the court.

If the newcomers want to see what being a Calgary Flame is all about, all they have to do is look at Backlund, Mangiapane and Coleman and they’ll have a pretty good idea.

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That will matter as much as anything the trio does during a game between now and the end of the season.

“I think our role won’t necessarily change in the sense that we’ve always played tough minutes against the top lines and at the end of the day we’re expected to stop guys,” Coleman said. “I think it’s just the way we get to the court, prepare and show the right way to be professional.”

MORTON IS NOMINATED

This will be a week Sam Morton will remember.

After signing with the Calgary Flames on Monday, Morton made his debut with the Calgary Wranglers in AHL action on Tuesday. He also got an assist on Mitch McLain’s game-winning goal.

Then on Wednesday, he was named one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, given to the top U.S. college player.

The 24-year-old scored a Central Collegiate Hockey Association-leading 24 goals and added 10 assists in 37 games this season for Minnesota State.

The Flames signed a one-year, two-way contract on Monday and he will play for the Wranglers on an amateur tryout for the remainder of the 2023-24 campaign.

The three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award will be announced on April 4 and the winner will be announced on April 12.

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