Pronger ready to build on his first outing as Flyers captain

Boston's Brad Marchand, flanked by teammate Rich Peverley (49) shoots and scores against Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov in Thursday's first period. The Flyers won, 2-1.
Boston's Brad Marchand, flanked by teammate Rich Peverley (49) shoots and scores against Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov in Thursday's first period. The Flyers won, 2-1. (CHARLES KRUPA / Associated Press)
Posted: October 08, 2011

NEWARK, N.J. - It was only one game, but defenseman Chris Pronger showed no ill effects from any of last season's four surgeries as he played a key role Thursday in the Flyers' season-opening, 2-1 win in Boston.

Pronger played a team-high 24 minutes, 34 seconds; collected a power-play assist; had five of his team's 17 blocked shots; and was strong on the penalty kill.

Not bad for someone who has been brought along slowly since undergoing back surgery in May. Pronger, who will turn 37 on Monday, missed the beginning of training camp and played in just one preseason game.

"I feel pretty good . . . and it's nice to get a day off between games to try to loosen the back up," the Flyers' new captain said after Friday afternoon's practice at the Prudential Center, where they will play New Jersey in its opener Saturday night. "I did a little session at the gym this morning to kind of wake the body up."

The Flyers were badly outplayed for most of Thursday's first period - they got "too cute" with their passing, coach Peter Laviolette said - but gradually took control. The start of the game was delayed because of a long, emotional ceremony honoring the Bruins' 2011 Stanley Cup championship.

The Bruins took turns skating around the ice with the Stanley Cup, while the Flyers stayed in their locker room. They missed several speeches and video tributes.

"Well, I think after a 45-minute wait in the locker room, we knew they were going to come out hard. They always play hard at home," Pronger said of the Bruins. "They came out of the gates jumping, but we weathered the storm."

Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov made several key stops in the third period to preserve the win. The Flyers have won their last three openers - all on the road."

Breakaways. Laviolette showed his confidence in 18-year-old rookie Sean Couturier by playing him 4:34 on the penalty kill Thursday and using him in the game's closing seconds. . . . Defenseman Matt Walker did not take part in Friday's practice but did off-ice workouts. Walker, coming off surgeries to both hips last season, is healthy enough to play, GM Paul Holmgren said. Laviolette used Andreas Lilja over Walker as his sixth defenseman Thursday. . . . In its history, New Jersey is 12-1-6 in season openers at home. The Devils, who are directed by new coach Pete DeBoer, started 1-4-1 last year - en route to 9-22-2.


Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com or @BroadStBull on Twitter.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|