While the Flyers have been battling to stay on top of both the Eastern Conference and the Atlantic Division, their struggles just got a little harder today. The Flyers announced today that defensive stalwart Chris Pronger will miss the next 3-4 weeks of action after getting surgery to repair his broken hand. Helping Pronger get back as fast as 3-4 weeks will be made possible thanks to a screw being inserted into his hand. Just as we feared, Chris Pronger is more machine than he is man.
For Pronger to miss out on this much time essentially puts him out until the start of the playoffs. Getting the next few weeks off ideally gives Pronger the opportunity to recharge his batteries while dealing with an obnoxiously tricky injury. After all, your hand is pretty important in hockey and having it broken delays him being able to do hockey activities since holding your own stick is difficult.
What makes the timing of this injury tricky is the current place in the standings the Flyers find themselves in. The Capitals are streaking up the ladder while the Penguins have been on their heels the last couple weeks as the Flyers have gone from on fire all year to dealing with inconsistent play and, worst of all, losses. While the Flyers have been on top of the Eastern Conference all season, now they’re staring potentially a fourth or fifth seed possibility in the face. Going from having home ice throughout the East playoffs to not even having home ice in the first round is a possibility that didn’t seem likely just a few weeks ago.
Taking Pronger’s spot in the starting lineup will likely be recently acquired Nick Boynton. Boyton’s a steady defensive-minded guy on the blue line but certainly not in the same class as Pronger. Erik Gustafsson will be called up from the AHL to help fill out the roster. The Flyers have had it relatively simple for most of the year but getting this brand of test before the playoffs will be a character builder for the team. Getting the reward of having Pronger return for the first round of the playoffs would provide the kind of boost the team will need to get through the NHL postseason.