Flyers' Manning eager to play McDavid again

Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) carries the puck during the first period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.
Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) carries the puck during the first period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. ((Brace Hemmelgarn/USA Today))
Posted: March 04, 2016

Brandon Manning has put the death threats behind him.

The Flyers defenseman said he received the threats after he collided with Edmonton's Connor McDavid on Nov. 3, and the Oilers' hotshot rookie suffered a broken collarbone on the play.

"There was stuff on Twitter and everything, all kinds of threats," Manning, whose Flyers will host McDavid and the Oilers on Thursday, said after practice Wednesday in Voorhees.

"Canadian fans are passionate, and I don't think it would be any different with Flyers fans if they saw that one of our guys went down like that. So it wasn't a big deal to me."

Manning later said he received death threats, "and people were saying they hope I get AIDs. All kinds of stupid stuff."

He shrugged them off.

"It's just part of the game," he said. "I mean, there's people that say you play bad when you play good and vice versa."

McDavid, 19, the No. 1 overall selection in last year's NHL draft, missed 37 games because of the injury. Since returning to the lineup, the center has seven goals and 19 points in 15 games. Overall, he has 12 goals, 31 points, and a minus-3 rating in 28 games.

Manning said the injury happened on an innocent-looking play.

"He just went outside on me. I pivoted to take him wide, and [Michael Del Zotto] came across to try to hit him," Manning recalled. "Anybody who watches the replay can see [McDavid] clearly catches an edge before anybody even touches him. He actually brought me down with him. I fell because he fell."

The rookie ended up slamming into the boards behind the net.

Manning, who was a healthy scratch in Monday's 5-3 win over Calgary, hopes to get a chance to play against McDavid on Thursday.

"He finds a way to make things happen," Manning said.

Sean Couturier, the Flyers' shutdown center, had a concussion and did not play in the teams' first meeting four months ago, a 4-2 Edmonton win.

McDavid, Couturier said, "is a pretty spectacular player. A lot of speed. We're going to have to be ready to skate and keep up with his speed."

This will be the first time Flyers rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere has faced McDavid since he was recalled from the Phantoms. Gostisbehere (12 goals, 35 points, plus-6 in 44 games) and McDavid are two of the league's best rookies, along with Chicago's Artemi Panarin, Detroit's Dylan Larkin, Buffalo's Jack Eichel, and Arizona's Max Domi.

"It's going to be fun," said Gostisbehere, who has an outside chance to become the first rookie of the year in Flyers history. "Just facing Eichel the other week was pretty fun. They're both tremendous players."

Because of McDavid's quickness, "you might not be doing the backwards crossovers too much. You might just turn around and go forward," Gostisbehere said with a laugh. "He's got first-class speed. He's one of the fastest guys in the league, by far, already."

"I think it's just a matter of all five guys being aware when he's on the ice and collectively try to check him and make sure he doesn't get the puck through the neutral zone with a lot of speed " defenseman Nick Schultz said. "That's when he's really dangerous."

Edmonton is ranked 29th out of the 30 NHL teams with a 24-34-7 record. The Flyers are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games against teams that were not in a playoff spot when they met.

scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull www.philly.com/flyersblog

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