February 16 2017 01:10PM
Connor McDavid vs. Brandon Manning.
It is a fun angle, but we all know they will never drop the mitts. McDavid is a scorer not a fighter, and Manning can handle himself quite well if need be.
However, after their meeting in Philadelphia earlier this season, McDavid accused Manning of being classless for supposedly saying he injured McDavid on purpose last year.
"I did all I could defending him last year in the media," McDavid said after the game in Philadelphia. "Everyone wanted to make a big deal saying he did it on purpose, and he wanted to say some comments today about what went on last year. I thought it was one of the [most] classless things I've ever seen on the ice. He said some things and our guys responded accordingly. I guess we can put the whole 'if he did it on purpose' thing to rest because what he said out there kind of confirmed that. Shows what kind of guy he is when he doesn’t step up and fight some of our guys.”
McDavid was fired up moments after the game, which is normal. It is hard to just calm down. The only thing I didn't agree with was suggesting Manning wouldn't step up and fight. First off, I don't see why he has to fight for words. To me that is gamesmanship. Manning was saying things to try and get McDavid off his game.
However, if the did say it, it doesn't mean it was true, and it doesn't mean he should have to fight someone for saying something. It wasn't a racist, demeaning or anything along those lines.
There is a lot of chirping on the ice. It adds emotion to the game, and I love it, but I wouldn't agree that Manning is a guy who doesn't step up. He's fought Patrick Maroon before, so he isn't a rat, and a verbal head game is different than a physical cheap shot.
I loved how McDavid was fired up during and after the game, though. The NHL needs more emotion, but this morning McDavid it was a non-issue heading into tonight.
"I said my piece last game. I'm over it. Maybe I have to do a better job of not letting guys get to me. I'm just going to focus on myself and play my game," said the Oilers captain.
It was an expected response, but I believe McDavid has an edge to his game that bubbles to the surface at times, which is great. I asked him if he believes he plays better, or if it is helpful to him, to play annoyed the odd time.
"I don't want to be sleeping through games, and when you get yourself into the game emotionally like that your game can go to another level. I try to play with a little emotion sometimes, not too much where it gets me off my game, but definitely I've taken my share of whacks and now and then I'll give it back," McDavid said.
McDavid has four goals and 20 points in 19 games in 2017. He's still producing, but he hasn't had one of those games where he absolutely dominates the opposition and every shift has you saying, "Did you see that?" I sense tonight could be one of those nights. He'll let his actions do the talking.
Manning was asked if he thinks there will be repercussions. “It’s not something I really think about…everyone kind of had some words last game. I think everyone is professional. The points are just as important to them as to us. I’ll handle on the ice, whatever happens," said Manning.
Manning was not happy about McDavid's post game comments.
“I was a little disappointed in with the comments of Connor the last game. That kind of bothered me. Where I come from, what happens on the ice stays on the ice.
“He said it’s done, we’re out here to play the hockey game … whatever happens, happens," said Manning.
Manning was asked if he told McDavid he did it (hit in 2015) on purpose.
“No. Definitely not Never would. That’s not who I am. Anyone around me can vouch for that," he responded.
“I was pretty confused when it started. When he’s starting the second period and he’s telling me from centre ice to come on the ice, that’s something I haven’t seen in a long time.
“I was pretty confused by it, and disappointed with the comments after the game of being a classless hockey player. Anyone who knows me, or has been around me, (knows) that’s not my game and that’s not who I am," said Manning.
I'd guess Oilers fans would lean towards believing McDavid while Flyers fans will defend Manning.
None of us know what exactly was said, but regardless, it added some emotion to that game, and it's good build up for tonight's match.
It is very rare any players will suggest a fight will occur. Both Zack Kassian and Patrick Maroon said tonight is about the two points. Of course it is, but emotions are part of the game and Manning and McDavid could have another verbal sparring match. If they do, I'd expect one of the Oilers physical players -- mainly Maroon, because he's on McDavid's line -- to get in Manning's grill.
I'd love to see Manning and McDavid get in each other's face and have the emotion spread through both lineups. The Oilers are built to handle rough stuff, and many of their best games this season came when their was an obvious dislike for the opposition. Those games are great to watch and hopefully we see one tonight.
No changes for the Oilers. Benoit Pouliot is still injured and he won't make the start of the road trip. He might join the team on the road if he gets healthy. Kris Russell skated this morning and McLellan expects him to play on the road trip.
The Flyers are a team with a major lack of secondary scoring. Their top four players -- Voracek, Giroux, Simmonds and Schenn -- have 12 to 23 goals a piece and 35-47 points. No other forward has more than nine goals or 22 points. Sean Couturier has 15 points, Mat Read has 13 and Michael Raffl has 11 points, after 31 last year.
Neuvirth will start again tonight according to head coach Dave Hakstol. Interesting to see Steve Mason sitting on the bench both nights. The Flyers are 0-5-2 in their last seven games in Western Canada.
- I thought Drake Caggiula had his best game of the season on Tuesday. He was flying. He had four great chances, but didn't bury any. He was also physical (he had a huge hit on Stone), and was aggressive on the forecheck. I believe it was a combination of him returning to the wing and playing with some extra urgency.
Caggiula was a scorer who played physical in college. He has that edge in his game and we haven't seen much of it so far. It is easier to be physical playing the wing and he found a comfort level playing the same position he did in North Dakota. It is more of a straight line, up and down position, and he doesn't have as much responsibility defensively. He also has more energy because he isn't battling bigger centres down low. I'll be watching him closely again tonight to see if it was just one game, or if the move to wing is beneficial. I believe it will be.
- "My eyes lit up. I got so excited I was that open and felt I needed to score and I rushed it," Caggiula said explaining missing the net on a glorious first-period chance versus Arizona. The toughest adjustment for scorers coming out of junior, college or the AHL is learning how to adapt not scoring every night. Very few players are like McDavid, Crosby, Kane etc. They were used to scoring every game and suddenly when they aren't, it is difficult to maintain confidence. Caggiula said he rushed his chance last game, and if he had been scoring regularly maybe he wouldn't have.
- The Flyers are -29 in 5x5 scoring. Oilers need to exploit them at EV tonight.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING...
From Broad Street Hockey
With the Flyers losing at 12:13 a.m. today and starting on Thursday at 9:00 p.m., we could very well be looking at the possibility of the Flyers losing twice in one calendar day. History stands in front of us.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers win consecutive home games in the same home stand for only the third time all season. They capitalize on another team playing their second game in two nights with a 5-2 win.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: It is 2017 and the NHL is much calmer than previous years. I don't see any massive fireworks involving Manning. (The old school part of me hopes this is incorrect. I like a good tilt).
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Eberle scores a pair of goals. He's had three two-goal games this year and five games with a single. He inches closer to having as many two-goal games as one-goal outings this season.
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