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Manning has an edge on and off the ice

by Adam Kimelman / NHL.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Brandon Manning isn't shy in admitting he's got a chip on his shoulder.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound defenseman went undrafted by NHL teams, and finally earned a contract with the Flyers in November 2010.

Now in his first professional season, he's played well enough that he could make his NHL debut Thursday when the Flyers host the Florida Panthers.

"I think it's been the underdog story for me my entire career," Manning said. "It's something I've run with and I kind of rub it in people's faces, people who didn't think I could do it, or the teams that passed over me."

Manning spent four seasons with the Chilliwack Bruins of the Western Hockey League, and last season had 21 goals and 32 assists in just 53 games. He was tied for third among all WHL blueliners in goals, and tied for ninth with 53 points.

He had surgery in September to repair a labrum tear in his hip, which sidelined him until December, but he's done well since returning with 4 goals and 5 assists in 32 AHL games.

"It took me a while," Manning said of when he felt 100-percent healthy. "I missed a few games again in December. In mid-February I had a streak of about 10 games where I felt really good. I just have to make sure I'm taking care of myself and doing what I have to do every day. It's definitely come along the last month, month and a half, for sure."

If Manning plays, he'll be the 12th rookie to get into a game for the Flyers this season, and the sixth to make his NHL debut. Who comes out of the lineup, however, is a question. All six defenseman who played Tuesday against Detroit were on the ice for Wednesday's practice.

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette makes a rule of not discussing his lineup, but he might have tipped his hand when asked about Manning prior to Thursday's game.

"I'm excited to see him play because there's been a lot of real positive comments coming from the minor-league team that he's done a really nice job," said Laviolette. "He's a good two-way defenseman, he plays with an edge, he hits, he fights. It'll be interesting to watch him play. Apparently he's done a nice job down there, coming off the injury, worked hard in the summer to get to a point that now he's back playing. It's a good reward for him to get a game in and show what he can do."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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