2 maligned pieces have Flyers' trust

2 maligned pieces have Flyers' trust

VOORHEES, N.J. — Who can forget Game 1 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final? 

Ryan Parent, a 22-year-old defenseman, took his first shift to only be overwhelmed in his own end of the ice, which led to Chicago’s first goal of the series. There would be many more goals, but you couldn’t blame any of those on Parent.

That was his only shift of that series. He had lost Peter Laviolette’s trust, and the promising first-round pick acquired in the Peter Forsberg trade with Nashville in 2007, never played for the Flyers again.

Sometimes a team is as only good as its last line of defense or its third defense pairing.

If the Flyers' February success can be attributed to something as wildly mystifying as the Eagles' Super Bowl, then there has to be some merit to think the pairing of Brandon Manning and Radko Gudas has also contributed to the team’s overall defensive play. 

There may be isolated moments in a game when they’re caught in their own end (along with the fourth line), but together, they certainly don’t give Dave Hakstol reservations about playing them during crucial moments.

“No. 1, they have a good veteran presence to them,” Hakstol said. “The chemistry they’ve built with that experience has been very important to our team. They defend hard and they’ve been a very efficient pair back there.”

Efficient and experienced.

The Manning-Gudas combo has more combined games played on the Flyers' blue line with 510. You can also trace their partnership back to the 2016 Eastern Conference quarterfinals and the valuable experience they gained in slowing down Washington’s high octane offense to just two goals over the final three games of that series.

“It starts with a relationship off the ice,” Manning said. “When you know someone that well, it’s easy to talk to about your play on the ice or whatever’s going on. Even looking back at the playoffs in Washington, I think it was the same thing — 20 to 25 games together down the stretch. When you play with someone that much, it makes everything else that much easier.”

Having Manning and Gudas log significant minutes not only helps fortify the Flyers defensively but affords Hakstol from having to overextend his top pairing of Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere, especially in the manner in which Provorov has struggled over the second half of the season.

Ron Hextall wasn’t looking to replace Manning or Gudas before the trade deadline but rather provide depth. As of Wednesday, Johnny Oduya had not made it to Philadelphia as he continues to work through some visa logistics on his way here from Ottawa, Ontario.

“We’ll see where he fits into our group, but we’re really happy with our group of six,” Hakstol said. “Our pairs have fit together very well. We’ve got some good chemistry there, and we’ll be cautious about any changes we make.”

Crosby's highlight-reel goal sparks Penguins' rally

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Crosby's highlight-reel goal sparks Penguins' rally

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby ignited a rally with a highlight-reel goal and became the third active player with 700 career assists in the Pittsburgh Penguins' 5-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night.

Crosby's picked up his 24th goal of the season when he knocked a pass from Jake Guentzel out of the air, deflected it toward the front of his stick and smacked it by Carey Price to tie it at 3 late in the second period.

Derick Brassard put the Penguins in front to stay, beating Price early in the third period as Pittsburgh avoided dropping both games of a back-to-back against also-rans Montreal and the New York Islanders.

Guentzel had a goal and two assists. His 21st goal of the season came off an assist from Crosby, the 700th of Crosby's career. Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist also scored for the Penguins, who drew within two points of idle first-place Washington in the Metropolitan Division. Casey DeSmith finished with 27 saves.

Jonathan Drouin, Nikita Scherbak and Jacob de la Rose scored for the Canadiens, who have dropped nine of their last 10 games. Carey Price made 34 stops in his first start in a month due to a concussion (see full recap).

Schwartz, Blues top Bruins in OT
ST. LOUIS — Jaden Schwartz scored his second goal of the game 30 seconds into overtime to give the St. Louis Blues a 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.

Schwartz skated up the middle and fired a shot past Anton Khudobin. The Blues won for the fifth time in six games to move within a point of the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

Jake Allen made 21 saves to improve to 24-21-2.

Ryan Donato scored for Boston. The Bruins clinched a playoff spot and moved within four points of Tampa Bay for the Eastern lead.

Schwartz tied it midway through the third period with a wrist shot from the top of the circle.

Donato scored his second goal in his second NHL game. He had a goal and two assists in a 5-4 loss to Columbus on Monday night.

Donato, still a student at Harvard University, returned to Massachusetts on Tuesday to attend class before flying back to St. Louis to rejoin the Bruins. His father, Ted, played 528 games in two stints with the Bruins (1992-99, 2003-04) (see full recap).

Rookie sets record in Coyotes’ victory
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Clayton Keller had two assists to set the Arizona Coyotes' franchise record for most points by a rookie in a 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night in a matchup of the NHL's two worst teams.

Rookie Dylan Strome scored in his first game after being called up from the minors. Derek Stepan had a goal and assist, and Richard Panik and Max Domi, with an empty-netter, also scored. Antti Raanta stopped 29 shots to improve to 12-4-4 in his past 20 starts.

Keller, Arizona's 2016 first-round draft pick, extended his points streak to six games, in which he has two goals and five assists. He has 55 points, one more than Peter Mueller had in setting the rookie team record in 2007-08. And Keller has 35 assists, one more than teammate Max Domi had in his rookie season two years ago.

Arizona improved to 13-5-2 in its past 20, and earned its 61st point in leaving Vancouver alone at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

Jordan Nolan scored for Buffalo, which dropped to 23-38-12 to remain in last place in the overall standings (see full recap).

Breaking down why Flyers traded Cooper Marody

Michigan Athletics

Breaking down why Flyers traded Cooper Marody

The Flyers on Wednesday traded NCAA prospect Cooper Marody’s rights to the Edmonton Oilers for a 2019 third-round draft pick that originally belonged to the New Jersey Devils.

Marody enjoyed a breakout junior season at Michigan University in 2017-18. The 21-year-old led the Wolverines with 32 assists, 46 points and 1.24 points per game.

His 32 assists were tied for third-most in the nation, while his 46 points were tied for ninth most. He made the Big Ten All-Tournament team and was the Big Ten scoring champion.

Let’s make sense of why the Flyers moved Marody and why it’s a good return.

One, he was a 2015 sixth-round draft pick with little NHL upside. Essentially, this boils down to a sixth-round pick netting you a third-rounder, which has a higher probability of hitting.

Two, the Flyers’ pipeline is loaded with forwards, and the book on Marody doesn’t project him to be a top-six forward. Think of him as a solid AHL player with bottom-six NHL potential.

Three, the contract limit. The Flyers are currently at 47 contracts, three under the limit. Sure, four players are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this summer with four more hitting restricted free agency. They could easily fit Marody under the contract limit but it goes back to No. 2.

Another potential factor is the 2019 third-rounder the Flyers owe the Red Wings if they make the playoffs since Petr Mrazek has won five games already with the team. They now have a third-rounder in that draft.

Any way we slice it, the Flyers turned a sixth-rounder into a third-rounder. If Marody proves the Flyers wrong, so be it. If not, it's no big deal. The chances of winning this trade are higher than losing it.