Chris Pronger's injured right hand is no longer wrapped in an elastic bandage. It's wrapped in a shroud of secrecy.

The Flyers' imposing defenseman did not take part in Monday's practice, raising speculation that he will not be in the lineup when the Flyers open the Stanley Cup playoffs Thursday night against the Buffalo Sabres at the Wells Fargo Center.

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren declined requests to speak with the media Monday, issuing a statement that Pronger is sidelined "day to day" with his hand injury.

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was equally evasive when asked if Pronger would return to practice for the first time since he reinjured his surgically repaired hand in the final week of March.

"I probably won't comment on anything that has to do with injuries," Laviolette said. "In fact, I know I won't, because that's the way we operate here."

Welcome to the Stanley Cup playoffs, where a broken foot is an "upper body injury" and a separated shoulder is a "lower body injury."

"People come in and out of the lineup," Laviolette said. "They have all year, and they will through the course of the playoffs. Our preparation remains the same as a group.

"We worked on the power play (Monday), so he wasn't out there. We have to move on and prepare. It's hard to say we're preparing as if Pronger were in there for Game 1 because he wasn't out there (Monday)."

Pronger, who led all Flyers in playoff ice time last season, has not played since March 8. He had a stabilizing pin inserted in his right hand March 14 and was told he would need three to four weeks to return to the lineup. He began practicing just a week after the surgery and began shooting the puck three days later.

Flyers left wing Scott Hartnell tried leading the media down a road of rumors by saying Pronger would definitely return for Game 3 of the club's first-round series against the Sabres.

"Whenever he comes back, we'll welcome him with open arms," Hartnell said. "We've been winning some games without him. He's a big presence back there. He gets away with a lot of stuff. He brings a presence in the locker room and we miss him, but hopefully he gets back healthy."