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Holmgren says Pronger could be back by Tuesday

Saturday, 03.12.2011 / 8:27 PM / News

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren said Saturday that although defenseman Chris Pronger was sitting out a second straight game and sporting a cast on his injured right hand, the All-Star blueliner could return to the lineup as soon as Tuesday's game at Florida.

Holmgren said Pronger is day-to-day with the injury and will make next week's road trip, which includes stops in Florida, Atlanta and Dallas.

"He was better today in practice, that's all we can go by," Holmgren said. "He continues to get better each day, so we're hoping by the next game he feels good enough to play. His grip strength continues to get better. We'll just see how it goes."

Holmgren said x-rays and MRIs on Pronger's hand have been negative.

"There's just something going on in there," Holmgren said. "It's inhibiting his strength a little bit. That continues to get better each day. But if you're a hockey player and you can't grip your stick you're going to have a hard time."

Pronger injured the hand on Feb. 24 when he blocked a shot against the New York Islanders. He sat out one game and then played four in a row, but the injury flared up again Tuesday against Edmonton and he sat out Thursday's game in Toronto.

"Just thought it was good and it obviously wasn't completely 100 percent when he played (against the Oilers)," Holmgren said. "Now he's taking a little bit of a step back. He's gotten better the last few days, not really taking part in anything with a puck."

The 36-year-old defenseman has 25 points in 50 games and leads the Flyers with an average of 22:29 of ice time per game, but Saturday's game will be the 18th he's missed due to injury.

"We miss him in the lineup," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said prior to Saturday's game. "The fact that he's not in there, everybody gets concerned about that. He plays 25 minutes, 22 minutes because we're not pressing him that much. He's a guy that does a lot of things for us and plays in a lot of situations. Certainly you'd like to have him in the lineup, but he's not available tonight."

Nick Boynton took Pronger's place for the second straight game. Against the Maple Leafs on Thursday -- his first game since Feb. 7 -- he had one hit and 2 penalty minutes in 11:24 of ice time, all at even strength, and all paired with Matt Carle, Pronger's usual partner.

"I thought he did a good job," Laviolette said of Boynton. "Toronto is a young, hungry, fast team. He came in and after not playing for a while that's difficult. … I thought Nick looked good out there. He's a veteran players, brings some experience."

"I thought Boynton came in last game and played really well," added Carle. "He's a veteran guy in this League. It was nothing new for him … he played really well filling those shoes."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

Quote of the Day

We think that Randy is a very good coach. Our players think that Randy is a very good coach. We think that he's going to get the most out of this group. With the addition of the two assistants, a bit of a different dynamic, we're very comfortable that this is a quality coaching staff that's going to maximize the potential of this team.

— Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis on head coach Randy Carlyle and his staff