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Andrew MacDonald, Radko Gudas settle down Flyers' young defense

The veterans have had a calming effect on the Flyers' young blueliners.

Andrew MacDonald celebrates with goalie Brian Elliott after a recent Flyers win. The NHL named Elliott the No. 2 star of the week.
Andrew MacDonald celebrates with goalie Brian Elliott after a recent Flyers win. The NHL named Elliott the No. 2 star of the week.Read moreSTEVEN M. FALK / Staff

Veterans Andrew MacDonald and Radko Gudas have stabilized the Flyers' young defense since returning to the lineup.

Entering Monday's game against Los Angeles, the Flyers were 6-2-1 since MacDonald returned from a leg injury — they were just 3-6-6 without him — and 3-0 since Gudas returned from a 10-game suspension.

The Flyers were allowing 1.33 goals in the three games that both were in the lineup since their return.

MacDonald has been back on the No. 1 pairing alongside Ivan Provorov, and Gudas has been together with rookie Travis Sanheim. Rookie Robert Hagg, who had been with Provorov during MacDonald's absence, is now with Shayne Gostisbehere.

MacDonald and Gudas have had a calming effect on the defense, captain Claude Giroux said.

"They're both playing really good hockey and logging a lot of minutes," Giroux said before Monday's game. "When they have the puck, they usually make the right play. And that veteran presence — not just on the ice, but in the room or on the bench — is really key."

They give the Flyers two veterans "you can talk to on the bench if you have any questions," Hagg said. "And Gudie is Gudie. He's playing physical and when an opponent goes into his corner, they know it's going to be a war."

Sanheim said the defensemen have provided stability and "made it a little easier on some of the younger guys to have that voice and communication from some of the older guys, and they're obviously key guys on the penalty kill, too. They do a good job blocking shots and getting in lanes."

Stevens returns

Kings coach John Stevens returned to the city where he started his head-coaching career. Now in his first year as L.A.'s head coach, Stevens was an associate coach when the Kings won Stanley Cup titles in 2012 and 2014.

He coached the Flyers from 2006-09, compiling a 120-109-34 record before being replaced by Peter Laviolette.

Stevens, who still has a home in Sea Isle City, N.J., downplayed his return to the Wells Fargo Center.

"To be honest, we're just looking at Philadelphia as a tough opponent," he said before the game. "The team is playing well right now. If anything, I have a lot of respect and fond ties to my time here. It sounds odd, but for my kids, this is home for them. For them, it's like coming home with the familiarity with the people here. Philadelphia is a great memory for my family."

Giroux is the only player on the current Flyers team who played for Stevens when he was their head coach. He played parts of three seasons under Stevens.

"When I came in the league, he really kept me on my toes," Giroux said. "He pushed me to be a hardworking player and he really helped me on my work ethic."

Elliott honored

Flyers goalie Brian Elliott was named the NHL's No. 2 star of the week after going 3-0 with a 1.31 goals-against average and .943 save percentage. Chicago's Patrick Kane (four goals in three games) was the No. 1 star. Elliott was the No. 3 star the previous week.