As the Flyers prepare to open their playoff series Thursday against visiting Buffalo, veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen said his team must put the Chris Pronger drama aside. Before the Flyers practice, Pronger skated and did some stickhandling drills for about 40 minutes. He worked with assistant Joey Mullen and never shot the puck - except for tap-ins into an empty net. Pronger, 36, is considered doubtful for Game 1, but general manager Paul Holmgren said the team would decide Thursday whether the 6-foot-6 defenseman could play. Pronger, sidelined with a broken right hand that makes it difficult to grip a stick, has not played since March 8. Wednesday was the first day Pronger did some stickhandling in about two weeks. The Flyers went 16-9-7 without Pronger, but just 3-4-5 down the stretch. "If he's here, great; if he's not, we have 20 other guys who play here," Timonen said. "We've had to learn to play without him," winger Scott Hartnell said. "Obviously, we miss him - his presence, his composure with the puck, his big shot up top on the power play." Still, Hartnell said that Pronger's status was "the farthest thing from our mind" and that the team was focusing on what it had to do to beat Buffalo. Based on Wednesday's practice, Danny Syvret would replace Pronger if the star defenseman could not play. The top three defensive pairings Wednesday had Matt Carle with Andrej Meszaros, Timonen with Braydon Coburn, and Sean O'Donnell with Syvret. Pronger may take some shots Thursday to test the hand. "It kills him that he's not in the lineup," Hartnell said. But, if he's not there Thursday, will it kill the Flyers? "He's a big piece of the puzzle, but it's not an excuse," center Danny Briere said. "We should [be able to] win without him."
Flyers ready to go, with or without Pronger
Philly.com | Apr 14