Well, the playoffs begin Thursday night. Two days before the puck drops against Buffalo, Pronger, coach Peter Laviolette, and general manager Paul Holmgren were by turns vague, cryptic, misleading, unforthcoming, and amusingly sarcastic.
That latter bit came from Pronger, of course. Asked what his "pain level" was on a scale of 1 to 10, his eyes widened in delight. This is not a man who can pass up a straight line.
"Ten right now, because I'm talking to you," Pronger cracked.
None of this should be surprising in a sport in which a concussion can be announced, with a straight face, as an "upper-body injury." The problem, as it was with the Phillies, is that all this misdirection and obfuscation creates a vacuum that is naturally filled with speculation and assumptions - much of which is wrong.
In that spirit, then, a guess: Pronger will be in the lineup for Game 1 of this first-round series. If not, then he will almost certainly return for the bulk of it.
Pronger revealed that he had been skating regularly for more than a week. He was working out "undercover," as he put it - that is, out of view of the reporters who cover the team. While he hasn't been using a stick or shooting pucks, that shouldn't be viewed as a sign that he can't return soon.
"He's played 1,185 games in the NHL or something like that, and 183 playoff games," Holmgren said. "I can give him the benefit of the doubt in that regard."
There are a couple of reasons for all this deliberate vagueness. First, as silly as it seems, these guys really do think it's worth keeping the other team in the dark as much as possible. Pronger is a difference-maker, and the Sabres coaches must now plan for both his presence and his possible absence.
The second reason is probably more pressing. The Flyers simply played terrible hockey for most of the month or so that Pronger was out. That might not be pure cause-and-effect, but there is certainly a connection. Having the team count too heavily on Pronger's return for the playoffs could lead to a real letdown if he suffers a setback of some kind.
A reporter asked defenseman Matt Carle if the Flyers can win this series without Pronger. He gave a very good answer about the addition of Andrej Meszaros and Sean O'Donnell creating more depth in the defensive corps. When the cameras were off, he asked the reporter, "Did you think I was going to say no?"
Of course the Flyers are capable of beating the Sabres in the first round without Pronger for every game. They are the No. 2 seed playing the No. 7 seed (no need to dwell on the fact they launched their run to the Finals as a No. 7 seed playing No. 2 New Jersey last year). If they get back to playing the kind of hockey they're capable of playing, and played for the first 50 games this season, the Flyers will be fine.
Can they go all the way without Pronger? That's a different question, and the answer, based on all available evidence, is no way, no how. The big defenseman is that much of a factor, both on the ice and in the locker room. He is the one player this team can least afford to be without.
"It's tough," Pronger said. "You'd like to be able to be out there prepping, going through all the drills and preparing properly. I have my own path, I guess, and I'll use it for what it is."
It is hard to believe that path leads anywhere but back to the ice, and by the quickest route possible. This is the part of the year that hockey players live for.
So it would be surprising if Pronger misses a shift, let alone a game, if he's even close to 100 percent.
"Guess you'll have to wait and find out, won't you?" he said.
Guess so. But you kind of know already, don't you?
Follow columnist Phil Sheridan on Twitter at twitter.com/SheridanScribe
Read his blog at go.philly.com/philabuster or his recent columns at go.philly.com/philsheridan