"His hand is a little bit swollen," Holmgren said. "Whether Chris can play or not is too soon to tell. We'll have a better idea [today]."
Holmgren said Pronger had trouble gripping his stick, which was the same reason that kept him from returning against the Islanders on Thursday night. Holmgren also said he did not think Pronger required an MRI exam for further investigation.
Gustafsson, 22, was recalled for the second time this season. He spent 5 days with the Flyers around New Year's on a West Coast road trip, but did not play in any games. Gustafsson, out of Northern Michigan University, is tied for the Phantoms' lead in scoring with 33 points.
It makes sense for the Flyers to give Pronger tonight off, because the Senators are dead last in the Eastern Conference, and these teams combined for 126 penalty minutes and five fights in their last meeting on Jan. 20.
Plus, sitting Pronger - with the Flyers' next game not until Thursday - would give Gustafsson his NHL debut. While Pronger is an "important piece of the puzzle," as Laviolette said, the lessons Gustafsson gains now could prove very valuable if he is called upon in the playoffs.
"He's had a good year down there," Laviolette said. "He moves the puck well. He'll definitely be part of our pregame scout [meeting]. We'll see what happens."
The 'Come to Lavi' chat
Peter Laviolette and Paul Holmgren sat down with freshly waived forward Nik Zherdev yesterday morning before practice to reiterate their expectations and requests for the remainder of the season.
Despite his 15 goals, Zherdev has been openly criticized for his lack of preparation and work ethic at practice - and, at times, during games. Zherdev said he now knows what he was doing wrong.
"We talked about things," Holmgren said. "I think he does want to be here. As you know, he's not the most vocal or outspoken person. But the ball's in his court now."
By clearing Zherdev through waivers - at his request- the Flyers now have the option to send him to the AHL at any time. He also is available to play in the NHL now. The Flyers have 30 days, or 10 games, whichever comes first, to send him down without having to start the process over again. If Zherdev remains with the Flyers, no further move needs to be made.
Zherdev said he would even report to the Phantoms in Adirondack if assigned.
"Things like that happen," Laviolette said. "I think it's important to just start over again fresh and move past it. He is a talented player who can help our team. Today was a good day."
Goaltender Brian Boucher will start in Ottawa tonight . . . Forward Blair Betts (lacerated finger) did not make the trip to Ottawa . . . Defenseman Sean O'Donnell estimated that the Flyers have played to about 80 percent of their abilities over the last 3 weeks, though they are still 17-5-1 since Jan. 1 and 7-3-1 in February . . . Tomorrow's 34th annual Flyers Wives Fight For Lives Carnival at the Wells Fargo Center will be broadcast from 2-4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet. The carnival has raised more than $23 million in its first 33 years. Tickets are still available on ComcastTix.com. The carnival runs from 1:30 to 6 p.m. *