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.”