Chris Pronger

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren says Chris Pronger could be ready for season opener

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Chris Pronger’s offseason of rehab from back surgery is a point of interest for everyone in Philadelphia and Flyers fans all over the place. After all, Pronger’s the most formidable defenseman on the Flyers’ blue line and he’s also the guy who’s got more than a few more years left on his 35+ contract to play there. In short, the Flyers need him to be in tip-top shape for now and a the next six years.

With Pronger back on the ice and skating as well as doing shooting drills, hope has been running high that he’d be able to return in time for the Flyers first game of the year on opening night in Boston on October 7. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren, making a comeback of his own after his bike accident last week, says that he believes Pronger is in line to be ready to go for the start of the regular season. CSNPhilly.com’s Sarah Baicker has the hopeful words out of Flyers camp.

There’s no definite timeline for Pronger’s return. He likely won’t join his teammates on the ice Saturday, when the full team’s training camp begins. But Holmgren – and Pronger – are optimistic he’ll be ready for Day 1 of the NHL season.

“Right now, I think he is [going to be ready for Day 1],” Holmgren said. “We haven’t had any setbacks. He continues to get better every day. He’s been on the ice the last few days here, and the off-ice rehab and conditioning he’s doing here is right on track.”

If Pronger is good to go on opening night, that’s encouraging beyond belief for the Flyers as they’d be looking at potentially starting both Oskars Bartulis and Andreas Lilja alongside Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn, Andrej Meszaros and Kimmo Timonen. With Pronger back in the lineup, one of either Bartulis or Lilja will get the call to start barring anyone blowing the coaches away during training camp.

For as tenuous as Pronger’s health and ability to hold up through all the physical abuse he takes seems to be, the Flyers desperately need him in the lineup to be a contender. If there’s any doubt that Pronger isn’t totally ready to get back in the lineup, the Flyers should proceed with caution. Then again, we’re not the ones that have to deal with a motivated and grumpy Pronger itchy to get back on the ice either. If he wants in, he’ll make sure it happens.

Capitals accuse Letang of leaving his feet, hitting Johansson in head

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Get this: the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins seem divided on the legality of Kris Letang‘s hit on Marcus Johansson.

(Take a moment to gather your thoughts amid this shocking revelation.)

You can watch the hit over and over in the video above. This post features some takes on that check, which the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly reviewing.

Generally speaking, the three things people discuss regarding the check is how late it might be, if Letang used his feet and if Johansson’s head was the principal point of contact.

Letang told his side of the story:

The Capitals disagree:

While Barry Trotz pleads the Fifth after his previous comments about Brooks Orpik‘s suspension:

No doubt about it, Letang’s status is the top story to follow in this series between Games 3 and 4. We’ll find out soon enough how it all shakes out.

Penguins ride Murray’s masterpiece to 2-1 series lead vs. Capitals

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If Marc-Andre Fleury suiting up bothers Matt Murray, then the rookie goalie channeled those feelings into a masterful performance on Monday.

The Washington Capitals absolutely dominated Game 3, but Murray was even better, stopping 47 shots as the Penguins stole one 3-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.

(Capitals fans might see some parallels to Washington’s Game 5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers; they fell 2-0 despite a 44-11 shots on goal edge thanks to Michal Neuvirth‘s heroics.)

Murray stopped chance after chance before Alex Ovechkin finally broke through for his first goal of this series. Justin Williams then brought the Penguins’ lead down to 3-2 to make for a hold-your-breath final minute.

A driven Ovechkin and strong overall play from the Capitals (despite this defeat) aren’t the only reasons why Game 4 might present some twists.

First things first: Kris Letang might get suspended for Game 4 (if not for more than one game) thanks to this controversial check on Marcus Johansson.

Beyond that, there could be some bumps and bruises from this contest.

Bryan Rust left during the first period and didn’t return to the game after blocking a shot. Brian Dumoulin seemed shaken up after an Alex Ovechkin hit in the third period. The Capitals might have a player or two to look at, as well.

In other words, the Penguins could really lack for quality defensemen with Letang possibly suspended and possible injury absences for Dumoulin and Olli Maatta.

This series is living up to the hype … and really building up the hate.

Yes, NHL is reportedly looking at Letang’s hit on Johansson

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It remains to be seen if Kris Letang will get suspended for his hit on Marcus Johansson … and if he does, for how long.

(You can read initial reactions and some analysis about the specifics of the check vs. the one that got Brooks Orpik suspended here.)

There are a few things we do know already.

For one thing, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly looking into it.

Another factor that could help Letang avoid a suspension or limit the duration of supplemental discipline: Marcus Johansson returned during the second period.

In fact, Johansson delivered some hits on Letang.

There have been some nasty moments in Game 3, and more might be coming. The Penguins lead 2-0 with a few minutes remaining in the middle frame.

Kris Letang may face suspension for hit on Marcus Johansson

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Update: Reports indicate that the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is indeed looking into the hit.

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As thrilling as this Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington Capitals series has been, it seems like every game presents another controversial hit.

Game 3’s most noteworthy entry (so far?) came when Kris Letang was whistled for interference on Marcus Johansson.

Penguins fans griped that Brooks Orpik didn’t get a major penalty for his hit on Olli Maatta … now Capitals fans likely feel the same about the check Letang delivered.

Watch it in the video above. Also, Stefanie “My Regular Face” has it in GIF form:

Things could get ugly in Game 3:

One factor in a suspension happening – or at least the duration of the suspension – would be what the point of contact was:

Also, lateness of the check:

The Penguins ended the first period up 2-0 against the Capitals, even though Washington played one of its best 20 minutes of the series. Expect more drama.

Update: The Penguins won the game 3-2.

Read reactions to the check here.