December 09, 2016
Besides meeting in a couple of Stanley Cup Finals back in the mid-1980s, the Flyers and Edmonton Oilers don’t really have a rivalry to speak of. But it sure felt like there was a little extra between the two teams during Thursday night’s thrilling Flyers win.
“It was an intense game, a lot of emotion,” Claude Giroux said after. “Felt like a little playoff game but it was the funnest game we played all year, that’s for sure.”
Part of that emotion came from the friction between Oilers 19-year-old superstar Connor McDavid and Flyers depth defenseman Brandon Manning. If you’ll recall, Manning and McDavid got tangled up in Alberta last season, causing McDavid, the 2015 top overall pick, to break his clavicle and miss 37 games:
Fast-forward ahead to last night. There McDavid and Manning were in the first period, jawing after a play. According to McDavid, Manning made light of the play and he refused to fight any Oilers looking to stick up for their star.
Manning and McDavid exchanging words and shoves. pic.twitter.com/WKjDP89NkQ— Sons of Penn (@SonsofPenn) December 9, 2016
“You know what, I did all I could defending him last year in the media,” McDavid said. “I didn’t want to make a big deal saying he did it on purpose. He wanted to make some comments today about what went on last year and I thought it was one of the classless things I’ve ever seen on the ice. He said some things and our guys responded accordingly. We can put the whole ‘He did it on purpose’ thing to rest, because what he said out there confirmed that. It shows what kind of guy he is, how he doesn’t step up and fight some of our guys.”
Later on, Manning defended himself.
“I think anybody who knows me or who has played with or against me along the road here, knows that I am not that kind of player,” Manning said. “I am not out there intentionally trying to hurt people. I’m a guy who plays the game hard and I take pride in that. I think going back to last year, it was a total accident, I mean, there were three players involved and there was never any intention on hurting anyone.”
More Manning: "He comes out and says it's more classless thing he's ever seen and comes out in second period and he's yelling at our bench"— Jim Matheson (@NHLbyMatty) December 9, 2016
And from here, it seems that Manning has a point. First off, he’s not a dirty player and McDavid did appear to lose an edge first on that play 13 months ago. Clumsy on Manning’s part? Sure, but not obviously dirty. If this were another Flyers defenseman with a reputation, then maybe McDavid would get more of the benefit of the doubt.
Also, McDavid was harping about class the same night he chirped Manning pretty darn good after a goal:
(I would print those words, but this is a family website.)
Whatever. Regardless of whether he was right or wrong, McDavid is ridiculously good. That isn’t changing anytime soon, but it’s fair to say that Manning is under his skin.
The Flyers play in Edmonton on February 16th. It might make sense for Dave Hakstol to make Manning a healthy scratch that night. You know, just in case.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann