Allen Iverson and Mike Richards may have more in common than many think.

One day after missing practice with what he called a head cold, Flyers captain Mike Richards downplayed his much-publicized absence following Thursday's morning skate.

"Just a little bit of a headache when I woke up (Wednesday) morning, so no need to come in," Richards told reporters before the Flyers' playoff opener against the Buffalo Sabres. "I don't need to practice, just have to focus more on the games and get to 100 percent.

"I'm feeling good, ready to play tonight. I'm excited."

Wednesday, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said he saw Richards at the Skate Zone but that the 26-year-old center did not skate.

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said Richards had been given a "maintenance" day.

Thursday night, Holmgren emphatically denied a rumor that Richards was sent home Wednesday morning because he showed up late for a team meeting.

Pronger sits

As expected, Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger sat out Game 1 with an injured right hand. Pronger skated on his own Thursday and, according to Holmgren, is "day-to-day."

Pronger has been doing some light passing but has not cranked any slapshots. Until he can without pain, he'll remain out of the lineup.

Pronger has not played since March 8 and had stabilizing screws surgically implanted in his right hand March 14.

"We've been dealing with it for a while," he said. "It's nothing new."

The Flyers are 16-9-7 without Pronger in the lineup, but they were just 3-4-5 in their final 12 games without him.

"We're anxious to get him back," Flyers defenseman Sean O'Donnell said. "We'd like to have him back, but we're comfortable with the team we have without Chris."

Pronger's absence gave way to Danny Syvret's first playoff game as an NHL defenseman. Syvret played alongside O'Donnell on the third pairing, leaving Matt Carle and Andrej Meszaros together on the top pairing and Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn together on the second unit.