Pronger eyes playoffs as return date

By JAY BOEHMER
Senior Hockey Insider — jboehmer@highhopesblog.com
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Chris Pronger, who recently underwent surgery on his right hand, thinks he will return to the lineup in time for the start of playoffs. (Courtesy Philly.com)

Though he would like to get a few games in before the end of the regular season, Chris Pronger is at least sure that he will return in time for the playoffs.

Pronger received the injury – a fracture in his right hand – after taking a shot on February 24th. He played four games after that before he decided that his hand wasn’t getting any better and that he needed treatment.

“It was just one of those things … nothing was showing up on the X-ray, but it continued to stay weak,” he said. It would progress on days off and then it would get weak after playing.

“So we got an MRI and it showed something, and we got a CT scan and that confirmed it, and we got it fixed.”

A veteran, Pronger knew something wasn’t right, but fought to play through it.

“A player knows his body and I’ve been around the game long enough to know when something doesn’t feel right and isn’t responding to treatment,” he said. “It just kept lingering and wouldn’t go away.”

With surgery on his hand complete, Pronger is now entering the rehabilitation phase.

His doctors say it will take three to four weeks to recover – a timetable that lands right around the end of the season.

If he comes back closer to three weeks, Pronger will be able to dress for the last two or three games of the season. Should he take four weeks, Pronger will be stepping on to the ice just in time for the start of the playoffs.

Pronger knows he’ll need those games to get back in the loop, and hopes to recover in time. If he isn’t able to, he takes solace in the fact that a hand injury doesn’t keep him off the ice, and that he should still be able to maintain his skating legs.

“It’d be nice [to get a few games]. It’s never easy to hop right back in,” he said. “But the thing with this injury is I’m going to be able to be skating and practicing and doing all the rest of that stuff while I’m in the recovery stage, which helps.

“It’s a lot different when I hurt my foot and I wasn’t able to skate or do anything on the ice. This is a little bit different, and I shouldn’t be too far off whenever I come back.”

Without Pronger, the Flyers will give increased ice time to their back-up defenders Nick Boynton and Erik Gustafsson. Boynton dressed for the first three games that Pronger was out, but was scratched in favor of Gustafsson in the most recent.

Coburn, Carle, and Timonen are also picking up the slack. All three played over 26 minutes against Atlanta on Thursday. Meszaros also played 25.

With a strong enough corps of defenders, missing Pronger shouldn’t be too much of a hurdle.

And if they can survive this stretch and manage to pick up their play and hold on to first place, then they’ll be all the more ready to succeed when the veteran defenseman does return to the lineup come playoff time.

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