When Luke Schenn and Mark Streit come off the injury list and return to the lineup in the coming weeks, the Flyers are going to have an overflow of defensemen.

That's what makes the next few games so important to Brandon Manning, who is trying to demonstrate he deserves to stay in the lineup.

Manning struggled mightily in the season's first month, but he has steadied himself and played admirably since being paired with rookie Shayne Gostisbehere.

Entering Tuesday, Manning was plus-2 (tied for the team's best rating) and he also had brought out the best in the smooth-skating Gostisbehere.

"They've done a good job together and they need to continue growing," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said Tuesday before the game against visiting Carolina.

Even though he has played only 46 games with the Flyers in his career, the 25-year-old Manning is a veteran of sorts, Hakstol said.

"He's been at the pro level and had to work his way to this level," Hakstol said. "He's got a pretty good perspective on the game. He keeps his game simple. He expects himself and his partner to play a good, efficient defensive game, and I think that's what he brings to Ghost as a young guy - that expectation of being clean in their zone."

Some pairings will have to be juggled when Schenn and Streit return. It seems a lock that the Flyers will make some salary cap-related moves to keep Gostisbehere with the team. But will Manning remain as his partner?

"They've been good," Hakstol said when asked if he would be reluctant to break up the Gostisbehere-Manning duo. "But, as evidenced over the last few weeks, we've had a lot of different combinations back there. When that time comes, we'll take a look at everything."


Gostisbehere began the night leading NHL rookies with four power-play goals. . . . Michal Neuvirth, the presumed No. 2 goalie, made his third straight start. . . . The Flyers opened the game with their new-look second line: Sean Couturier centering Jake Voracek and Wayne Simmonds. . . . The Flyers allowed the first goal for the fifth time in the last six games. . . . Manning, Voracek and Michael Raffl will be among the players delivering toys Wednesday to the Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia's Foster Care Center. Fans donated the toys at a recent home game. . . . Entering the night, the Flyers had been outscored, 47-37, in five-on-five situations.