PHILADELPHIA -- When Brandon Manning and Matthew Konan arrived in the Philadelphia Flyers' locker room for their game Tuesday against the New York Rangers, they could be forgiven for making sure they weren't still in the American Hockey League.
The rookie defensemen, both recalled from the Flyers' AHL team Tuesday, saw four teammates from earlier this season dressing in same room.
On a defense depleted by injuries -- the latest are a concussion sustained by Kent Huskins during the game Monday against the Montreal Canadiens and the torn stomach muscle that will sideline Bruno Gervais indefinitely -- the arrival of Manning and Konan mean four of the Flyers' seven healthy defensemen started the season in the minor leagues.
Manning has four games of NHL experience from last season, but if Konan gets in, it will be the first game for the undrafted native of Orange, Calif.
"It does [help with the nerves], seeing Olie [Oliver Lauridsen], Gussy [Erik Gustafsson], Mand-dog [Manning]," Konan said. "It does help seeing those guys. I'm excited to be here. I'm thankful and I'm going to do whatever I can to be ready. If they need me I'll be ready to go."
Konan had offseason surgery to repair a pair of sports hernias and started the season in the ECHL. He also missed time this season with a concussion, but in 42 AHL games he has two goals and four assists.
"Konan was a guy that he keeps getting talked about that he's playing well down there," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "A tall kid; a good, steady two-way defenseman."
Manning was plus-1 with six shots on goal in four NHL games last season. He admitted to struggling at times this season, and in 65 AHL games he has 21 points, 135 penalty minutes and a minus-28 rating that ranked as the second-worst in the league. However, he did play in the AHL All-Star Game.
"My game hasn't been where I want it to be," Manning said.
Laviolette said he's looking forward to having another look at Manning in the NHL, based on his "familiarity with [him] from having him up here. You know what he brings."
Laviolette said he won't change much of the game plan, but did say there have been "tweaks."
"We've tried to just play a more dependable game defensively," Laviolette said, "and in certain situations where maybe we'd be a little more aggressive we've tried to back off the numbers a little bit if the circumstances aren't allowing us to be aggressive."
One of Manning or Konan has to play for the Flyers to have six defensemen, but Laviolette would not say which one or both would play.
"I think defense is a tough, tough position for young players," Laviolette said. "Forwards you get a little bit of latitude if there's a mistake in the offensive zone or the neutral zone. Your defense is your last line of something in front of your goaltender. When there's a breakdown it's a little more obvious. So it's a little more difficult for young defensemen."
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