Pronger: Byfuglien matchup, underdog talk 'blown out of proportion'

prongmic.jpgChris Pronger is not a shy player when it comes to mixing it up in the corners … or, apparently, when he is in front of a microphone or a reporter’s notebook. The big brute often provides candid (well, for hockey players, at least) comments to the media and this weekend was no exception.

Pronger is never one to mince words. Oh, no. He routinely keeps the media on its toes with quick jabs and commentary whenever he deems it appropriate. And Sunday, he was in rare form, laughing and mixing it up for the reporters and television cameras.

It began with the second question of the day when he was asked about the matchup against Chicago forward Dustin Byfuglien, who had his five-game goal-scoring streak snapped Saturday.

“There was a lot of talk,” Pronger said. “You guys had a lot to say about him. So I guess we needed to calm that down real quick. I have played in the West for 14 years. I played against him a lot. So it’s not like I’ve been out East for my whole career and never played against the guy. That may have been blown out of proportion.”

Pronger went on to quip about how little stock he puts into “favorites, underdogs” as he pointed out the New England Patriots’ 2002 Super Bowl upset of the St. Louis Rams, pointing out that a lot of people must have lost money. (Kind of makes you wonder if Pronger lost money there, right?)

While hockey fans are far from shy to voice their disapproval of the big bully defenseman, at least Pronger isn’t shy about speaking his mind.

We could use more players who are so free with their words. Now, if he could just get those elbows under control …

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    Modano, Ciccarelli, Roenick and Savard highlight Minnesota-Chicago alumni rosters

    Mike Modano
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    There’ll be no shortage of star power on display on Feb. 20, when alumni from the Wild, Blackhawks and North Stars do battle at TCF Bank Stadium.

    On Tuesday, the NHL unveiled the rosters for the Stadium Series outdoor game — one day prior to the tilt between Chicago and Minnesota, a slew of ex-NHLers will compete for bragging rights, including Mike Modano, Dino Ciccarelli, Chris Chelios, Jeremy Roenick and Denis Savard, to name a few.

    The full rosters:

    North Stars/Wild

    Fred Barrett, Don Beaupre, Brian Bellows, Brad Bombardir, Neal Broten, Andrew Brunette, Jack Carlson, Jon Casey, Dino Ciccarelli, Curt Giles, Craig Hartsburg, Darby Hendrickson, Antti Laaksonen, Reed Larson, Dennis Maruk, Brad Maxwell, Giles Meloche, Mike Modano, Richard Park, Steve Payne, Willi Plett, Gordie Roberts, Brian Rolston, Bobby Smith, Wes Walz, Tom Younghans.


    Adrian Aucoin, Murray Bannerman, Chris Chelios, Dave Christian, Denis Cyr, Eric Daze, Reggie Kerr, Steve Konroyd, Jerry Korab, Cliff Koroll, Dave Mackey, Peter Marsh, Jamal Mayers, Grant Mulvey, Troy Murray, Brian Noonan, Jack O’Callahan, Jeremy Roenick, Phil Russell, Denis Savard, Reid Simpson, Brent Sopel, Jimmy Waite.

    The North Stars/Wild will be coached by Lou Nanne, Mike Ramsey and Tom Reid. Tony Esposito and Pat Foley will man the Blackhawks bench.

    Veteran NHLer Moss signs in Swiss league

    David Moss
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    Another journeyman has been forced to find work overseas.

    David Moss, who had four goals as 12 points in 60 games for Arizona last season, has signed with EHC Biel of Switzerland’s National League A, the club announced on Tuesday.

    Moss, 33, is a veteran of over 500 games, split between the Coyotes and Calgary Flames. He nearly landed in Switzerland last season, reportedly agreeing to a deal before utilizing his one-week out clause to catch on in Arizona.

    After playing out his one-year, $800K deal, Moss failed to land a contract in free agency and eventually signed a PTO with Milwaukee, the AHL affiliate of the Nashville Predators.


    Chara isn’t satisfied with Bruins’ recent success

    Zdeno Chara
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    The Boston Bruins didn’t get off to a great start in October or November, but in both instances, they were able to turn things around in the back half of the month.

    Right now, everything seems to be going right for Boston, but if you think they’re satisfied with their current five-game winning streak, guess again.

    “We did some things well, and we did some things that we need to improve, keep working on and keep getting better,” captain Zdeno Chara told CSN New England. “ It’s nice to win games, and it’s nice to be getting points. But I think we also want to improve our play systems-wise, and be better in certain areas.”

    A big reason for their success comes from their improvement on special teams, specifically on the penalty kill.

    Boston still has the 27th ranked penalty killing unit in the league, but they’ve killed 15 of their opposition’s last 16 power plays during their recent winning streak.

    They’re power play is clicking at a mind-boggling 32.5 percent, which is tops in the NHL this season.

    The Bruins will get their first crack at former GM Peter Chiarelli’s new team when they take on the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night.

    Does Columbus have a fitness problem?

    John Tortorella

    Interesting note from the Dispatch this morning regarding Monday’s Blue Jackets practice, in which head coach John Tortorella put his players through some rigorous skating drills.

    Especially interesting, given what Scott Hartnell had to say.

    “You can tell by the way we practiced today that [Tortorella] wants us in better shape so we’re not fading at the end of games,” he explained.

    Fitness, or lack thereof, has been a recurring issue in Columbus this season.

    In late October, Tortorella called out All-Star center Ryan Johansen for being out of shape — coincidentally, Johansen was “singled out” for extra skating on Monday — and, in a recent conversation with, Torts again brought up the team’s conditioning problems.

    “I think it’s a team with a number of different mental and physical bad habits that we’re trying to turn into good habits to where it becomes an instinct, but we’re a ways away,” he explained. “These are mental habits that have nothing to do with X’s and O’s.

    “It’s a pretty young team, and quite honestly it’s about what it is to be a pro and doing the little things.”

    So, does Columbus have a fitness problem?

    It’s hard to say.

    Back in October, GM Jarmo Kekalainen told the Dispatch all players passed their training camp conditioning tests and, when asked, said “I don’t think anybody can say we’re out of shape.”

    But it stands to reason one of Kekalainen’s objectives in making the coaching change from Todd Richards to Tortorella was to light a fire under the team, and get them back to playing “Blue Jackets hockey” — the hard-working, hustle-filled style with a decided lunch bucket approach.

    And in order to play that brand of hockey, the team has to be in shape.