On a night when 40-year-old Jaromir Jagr scored his 18th goal, it was a player almost half his age who was drawing rave reviews from Flyers coach Peter Laviolette.
Meet Brandon Manning, a 21-year-old defenseman who made a successful NHL debut in the Flyers’ 5-0 win over visiting Florida on Thursday.
Laviolette gave the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Manning, whom he called “ManDog,” high marks. He was plus-2 in 14:59.
“He moved the puck; he generated some offense, and defensively he held his own out there,” Laviolette said. “I thought he did a terrific job.”
Because of injuries, the Flyers had different defensive pairings: Matt Carle and Erik Gustafsson; Braydon Coburn and Nick Grossmann; and Andreas Lilja and Manning.
“I actually got in a game with Lils this year in Adirondack, so that helped,” Manning said.
Manning, recalled from the Phantoms because of an injury to Pavel Kubina, had three shots on goal, and nearly scored from the left circle.
“I think it's part of my game,” he said. “I was just trying to keep it pretty simple out there. When I get an opportunity, I think I want to jump in there. It's part of my game that I want to contribute to the game."
The Flyers had seven rookies in their lineup. Three of them — Brayden Schenn, Matt Read and Eric Wellwood — scored goals. Flyers rookies lead the NHL with 49 goals this season, including 18 by Read.
“I’ve never been in a situation where there have been this many rookies available every game,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “There’s lots of reasons why a team has success, but certainly they are a contributing factor. Where we’re at right now, they’ve all been given roles and what we expect of them, and they’ve done a really nice job.”
Speaking of nice jobs, Ilya Bryzgalov (28 saves) notched his fourth shutout of the season and second in the last three games.
* * *
Jagr played despite suffering a hip injury Tuesday that was expected to sideline him.
"I had to play because there were no other Czechs,” he said with a smile, referring to injuries to fellow countrymen Jakub Voracek and Kubina. “All of the Czechs were out and everybody knows, if there are no Czechs in the game, it's kind of a boring game. It's like when you want to make food without salt, you know what I mean?"
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.