EDMONTON, Alberta — They slashed at him, poked him, even chided him from the bench when he was on the ice.
At some point, you knew Brandon Manning was going to have to do something. Patrick Maroon became his date with destiny.
The 230-pound Maroon, who has 25 pounds and two inches on the 6-1 Manning, jumped on him after a second-period faceoff.
To his credit, Manning took a beating but never went down, answering the many blows he endured (see video).
All of this a final crescendo to the entire Connor McDavid fiasco which began over a year ago, when McDavid fractured his clavicle against the Flyers. The 2015 No. 1 overall pick carried the puck past Manning when he lost a skate edge and fell, crashing into the boards with the Flyers' defenseman on top of him. As a result, McDavid missed 37 games and a chance at Rookie of the Year, while the chirping and nastiness over the hit all continued right into this week.
“It didn’t bother me,” Manning said of his ordeal during the Flyers' 6-3 loss to the Oilers on Thursday night (see game story). “I’m not scared of fighting. It’s just a matter of time. I picked my spot. I wasn’t too worried.”
Manning said he didn’t want to fight at the wrong time. It was a close game early, then Edmonton blew it open at 4-1 (see feature highlight).
Manning and Maroon were talking in the circle when they dropped gloves.
“To go out and fight just for the sake of fighting is not what I’m about,” Manning said. “We’re down 4-1, there’s an opportunity there and Maroon was willing, [so] you take it.”
Is this the end of the McDavid flap?
“Let’s hope so,” Manning laughed. “I’d love that. No, Connor didn’t say a word on the ice today. Even their guys, Patrick said ‘good job’ afterward. We would do the same thing if one our superstars got hurt. I understand it.”
Manning’s teammates gave him praise.
“It happens sometimes,” Wayne Simmonds said. “The way Manning plays, he plays hard. He finishes his checks, he’s a tough player.”
Added Jakub Voracek: “To fight a guy like Maroon, he’s a big boy and [Manning] did a great job.”
Players said the team intentionally did not speak about it before the game. Why? The focus was how important this trip is in terms of playoff standings and getting points, not appeasing the Oilers for a pound of flesh.
From the points standpoint, it’s been a dismal failure as the Islanders pulled ahead of the Flyers, dropping them further out of the wild-card chase. The Flyers only hope to salvage two points Sunday night in Vancouver.
Incidentally, McDavid quietly had a three-point game (one goal), giving him six points in four games against the Flyers.
Dave Hakstol promised “adjustments” to the power play after Wednesday’s disastrous five-minute power-play meltdown.
Ivan Provorov replaced Voracek on the first unit during one power play but Voracek was on the first unit again for the third power play in which he assisted on Brayden Schenn’s goal.
Matt Read replaced Jordan Weal on the second-unit power play once Weal was injured (see Instant Replay).