Brandon Manning

Flyers place Brandon Manning, Michal Neuvirth on IR

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Flyers place Brandon Manning, Michal Neuvirth on IR

EDMONTON, Alberta — The Flyers on Wednesday morning placed defenseman Brandon Manning and goaltender Michal Neuvirth on injured reserve.

Manning will miss three to four weeks with a right hand/finger injury, while Neuvirth will be out seven to 10 days because of a lower-body injury.

In addition, the Flyers recalled defenseman TJ Brennan and goaltender Alex Lyon to fill their respective roster spots (see story). Both players are in Edmonton and will be available for Wednesday’s game against the Oilers.

Defenseman Mark Alt is expected to take Manning’s spot in the lineup and will likely be paired with Travis Sanheim. Lyon will serve as the backup to Brian Elliott, who has started 10 of the Flyers' last 12 games. 

Manning is eligible to come off IR on Dec. 13 and play the next night against the Buffalo Sabres. Neuvirth can be activated at any time since the move is retroactive to his last appearance — Nov. 28 against the San Jose Sharks.

Health check on the farm
Samuel Morin is dealing with a lower-body injury separate than the one he suffered earlier this season. Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said Wednesday that Morin is still one week away from returning to the ice with the Phantoms.

Phantoms defenseman Philippe Myers is also out with an injury and is on a similar timeline as Morin, but the first-year pro would not a call-up option at this point in time anyway.

Despite injuries, Flyers put together 'unbelievable' effort in shutout

Despite injuries, Flyers put together 'unbelievable' effort in shutout

BOX SCORE

ST. LOUIS — The Flyers showed the St. Louis Blues what a true blue-collar effort really looks like.

Behind Michal Neuvirth’s 33 saves and a defense with four first-year NHL players with 272 games played combined among its unit, the Flyers kept the high-powered Blues out of the net with a 2-0 win on Thursday (see observations). It marked the first time the Blues have been shut out this season.

“Unbelievable. That’s one of the hardest-working teams in the league over there,” Neuvirth said. “They (defensemen) stepped up. They needed to step up and that’s what they did. I was impressed.”

If the Flyers didn’t already have enough going against them with all the injuries piling up, the team was also playing its fifth games in eight days. That stretch included four out of those five on the road with Thursday night’s game being the second half of a back-to-back set.

“The guys just worked hard. That’s just what it comes down to,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “They worked their asses off in the [defensive] zone tonight. The number of blocked shots, starting with Provy (Ivan Provorov), but throughout the group, that’s what it takes on nights like this.”

Defenseman Provorov came into Thursday’s game having logged some monster minutes over the Flyers’ past three games, including a career-high 29:51 the night before in Chicago. Yet Provorov put himself on the line Thursday in St. Louis as he matched a team record with 10 blocked shots (see highlights).

“The other team had a real shooting mentality, especially on the power play, so we tried to get into the shooting lanes and block some shots and help Neuvirth out,” Provorov said. “I think that’s what we did tonight.”

The Blues, on the other hand, had every reason to feel confident and comfortable. St. Louis owned the NHL’s best record at 10-2-1 and were well-rested with three days off between games.

“There were a couple of shifts where I thought we got a little bit slow in defending, but for the most part, whenever they did get it moving, we got it out of our down-low coverage,” Hakstol said. “We did a good job of getting in some lanes and then working and moving to find our next point of pressure.”

“A lot of guys are putting their bodies on the line, sacrificing their body, blocking shots,” Sean Couturier said. “You look at a guy like (Robert) Hagg, he’s not the most flashy guy. He’s pretty solid doing all the little details that make a difference to win a game, even Sanny (Travis Sanheim), he’s getting better every game, and the young guys are just getting better and better.”

The Flyers got the blocks and even a few of the breaks on Thursday night. Following a scoreless first period, the Flyers scored the game’s first goal when Brandon Manning ripped a slap shot that Blues goaltender Jake Allen never saw with Jakub Voracek in his face. 

Initially, the referees waved off the goal on account of goalie interference. However, after Hakstol challenged and the play was reviewed, officials reversed the decision when it was determined that defenseman Alex Pietrangelo pushed Voracek into Allen’s way.

“I felt something, but I was pretty confident I was out of the crease,” Voracek said. “After I saw the replay, I thought it could go either way. You never know lately how the call is going to go. I’m glad they allowed [the goal].”

The Flyers’ reversal of fortunes came exactly a week after a Manning goal was taken off the board in a 5-4 loss in Ottawa, which would have been the difference in earning a point.

“A little bit of good karma I think,” Manning said. “As soon as I saw it I was hoping that Hak would challenge. There wasn’t much there. It all works out in the end. Fortunately for us, it was a big one tonight.”

Fourteen games into the season, the injury-riddled Flyers have already been forced to utilize nine different defensemen, which is one more than what they needed in their first 80 games last season.

“Everybody’s here for a reason. Everybody can play,” Provorov said. “It sucks that Ghost (Shayne Gostisbehere), Mac (Andrew MacDonald) and Gudy (Radko Gudas) got injured, but the guys that came in did a really good job. I think we played a really solid game.”

Notes and tidbits
• In their 50-plus years of existence, the Flyers have never put a team on the ice with such little experience on the back end. The Flyers played four defensemen in the game that had 15 or fewer games of NHL experience prior to the game — Hagg (14), Sanheim (10), Mark Alt (3) and Will O’Neill, who made his NHL debut.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, the next closest such game was on Nov. 5, 1981, when the Flyers suited up four defensemen with under 40 games of experience — Fred Arthur (11), Reid Bailey (25), Glen Cochrane (39) and Steve Smith (NHL debut).

• The last NHL team to play with four defensemen each under 15 games of experience was the Colorado Avalanche, who did so while suffering a 4-2 loss to the Calgary Flames on Nov. 9, 2010.

• Provorov equaled MacDonald’s record of 10 blocked shots in this game. MacDonald set the record in a game at Tampa on March 11, 2016. The NHL has only started recording blocked shots since 1997. 

Flyers-Blues observations: Finally on the right side of a review

Flyers-Blues observations: Finally on the right side of a review

BOX SCORE

ST. LOUIS — The Flyers put together one of the most impressive shutouts in franchise history on Thursday with a 2-0 win over the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center.

Despite playing with a makeshift unit that had just 272 games played combined amongst the team’s six defensemen, the Flyers walked away with the win. Goalie Michal Neuvirth stopped all 33 shots he faced for his 11th career shutout.

Brandon Manning scored the game’s first goal 38 seconds into the second period. It was initially waved off for goalie interference but overturned after a review. 

Claude Giroux added an empty-netter in the final minute.

• Not only was Ivan Provorov all over the place Thursday night, but he was in every shooting lane as well. Facing the NHL’s No. 1-ranked team in blocked shots, Provorov turned in a performance even the Blues could admire with 10 blocked shots of his own, which tied a team record.

• Neuvirth went down awkwardly after he collided with Mark Alt’s stick in the third period. Neuvirth stayed down for several seconds. After officials blew the whistle to stop play, Neuvirth recovered and remained in the game.

• It appeared as if the Flyers lost another key player to injury as Brayden Schenn took a late run at Sean Couturier and caught him with a forearm in the head area. Couturier went down hard and stayed down in obvious pain before he was helped off. Schenn was given two minutes for interference.

Couturier missed the final eight-plus minutes of that second period. He returned to begin the third period and showed no ill effects from the shot he took from Schenn.

• I’m not sure if there are too many teams that move their defense around as much as the St. Louis Blues do. Offensively, they’re never stagnant and as long as their forwards rotate and cover defensively, it makes for a difficult matchup. 

• After Couturier exited, Jori Lehtera, who played his best game as a Flyer, filled in on that top line, as did Scott Laughton.

• Neuvirth brought his A game to the Gateway City with his biggest save on former teammate Schenn. Neuvirth flashed the glove on a perfectly executed breakout play that started behind the Blues’ own net. Neuvirth also displayed excellent rebound control as he steered shots toward the boards and in areas where St. Louis couldn’t generate a second-chance opportunity.

• I’m surprised the officials overturned their own call on the ice as they awarded Manning with the goal even after they whistled Jakub Voracek for goaltender interference. Credit the officials for recognizing that Alex Pietrangelo made the contact with a nudge, but it still didn’t appear as if Voracek made contact with Blues goalie Jake Allen. 

• One replay gave the appearance that Manning’s point blast was redirected, but it was hard to see who got a stick on the puck.

• Early in the second period, the Blues’ No. 1 power-play unit stayed out on the ice for the entire two minutes. While the Blues were able to keep it in the zone for much of that time, credit the Flyers’ penalty killers, as most of the Blues’ shots came from the perimeter and not much in the high-danger areas.

• The Flyers were under barrage for the first seven-plus minutes of the game as the Blues outshot them 10-1 to begin. Dale Weise committed a pointless slashing penalty away from the puck that gave St. Louis its first power play. The Blues’ best opportunity came when sniper Vladimir Tarasenko had a wide-open net from the right circle, but it appeared he tried to guide the puck and missed the net entirely.

• Making his NHL debut at the age of 29, Will O’Neill appeared to be very mindful of not getting caught out of position or overcommitting. O’Neill worked with a number of partners but played just 2:54, and actually had a shot on net.

• Allen misplayed a puck behind his net, which rolled outside the trapezoid area and allowed Couturier to gather it before the goalie could return to his net. However, Couturier was not able to take advantage as none of his linemates were unable to fill the passing lane with a wide-open net.

• As part of their defensive structure, the Blues’ forwards are very committed to their backchecking duties, which was evident in the opening 20 minutes. The biggest hit came when Vladimir Sobotka leveled Couturier behind the net. Whether it’s accurate or not, and it usually favors the home team, the Blues outhit the Flyers 13-3 in the opening period.

• St. Louis dominated the first half of the period, but the Flyers bounced back in the latter half. The Flyers did a considerably better job of maintaining puck possession and not allowing the Blues to cycle the puck quite as much.

Lines, pairings and scratches

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Travis Konecny-Valtteri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds
Jordan Weal-Jori Lehtera-Dale Weise
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Robert Hagg
Brandon Manning-Travis Sanheim
Will O’Neill-Mark Alt

Goalies
Michal Neuvirth
Brian Elliott

Scratches: Forward Matt Read (healthy), and defensemen Radko Gudas (upper body) and Shayne Gostisbehere (upper body).