BUFFALO, N.Y. --
Officially, the Philadelphia Flyers
are not providing any updates on defenseman Chris Pronger
's comeback from a broken hand.
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette
once again made that clear on Wednesday morning when asked if his star blueliner is any closer making his 2011 debut in the NHL's Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"I can't shed absolutely any light on that," said Laviolette. "Not allowed."
But a glance at the HSBC Arena ice surface a few minutes later provided far more insight on Pronger's status, specifically that it is almost guaranteed he will not be playing tonight in Game 4 of Philadelphia's first-round series against the Buffalo Sabres
Long after the Flyers' morning skate wrapped up for the team's regulars, the 36-year-old former Norris and Hart Trophy winner remained on the ice taking part in what amounted to a conditioning scrimmage.
Given that the other participants included Ben Holmstrom
, Erik Gustafsson
and Jody Shelley
-- all so far without a minute of playoff action this year -- and a pair of assistant coaches, it is not a stretch to say Pronger looks unlikely for Wednesday night's Game 4.
The good news for Flyers fans is that while Pronger is still not testing his broken right hand with any slap shots, during the practice session he got more involved beyond simple skating drills.
Pronger handled the puck quite a bit, firing wrist shots, flicking passes across the ice and even delivering a friendly cross-check to teammate Braydon Coburn
So far the Flyers, up 2-1 in the best-of-7 series with the Sabres, do not seem to have missed Pronger that much.
"It's been one of our strong points all year is our depth at all positions," captain Mike Richards
said. "We've had people out of the lineup up in the front end and we seemed to have some success without some key players and the same thing on the back end. Different people have stepped up. And especially at this time of year, that's what you need."
Meanwhile, over in the Sabres dressing room, Buffalo's players expressed their continued confidence in all-star goalie Ryan Miller
Last year's Vezina Trophy winner did not post impressive numbers in Buffalo's last two losses.
After stopping 35 shots in a 1-0 shutout win in Philadelphia to open the series, Miller has allowed eight goals on 59 shots for an uninspiring .864 save percentage.
"I think Ryan's been good, really good," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff
said. "If you look at our last couple of games, we probably got out-chanced and he came up with some big saves, miscues on our part that gave him a tap-in, backdoor play, one that goes off a stick.
"But when we're being aggressive, we put him a situation where he had to make probably three or four saves that would allow us to get back in the game," Ruff added. "Those were the kind of partial 2-on-1s, they had a couple of face-off plays where they had a couple slap shots.
Buffalo forward Jason Pominville
reminded everyone that the team would not even be in the playoffs without Miller.
"He's been solid this series so far with a number of key saves that could have been a number of goals that would have gone in, shots that would have gone in had he not been there," Pominville said. "We know he's going to be at his best. We want him there and the rest of us have got to do our jobs to do, too."
Buffalo forward Patrick Kaleta
practiced again and Ruff said he will play, meaning reserve Mark Mancari
will likely be a healthy scratch.
Also, defenseman Andrej Sekera
did not skate and would appear doubtful for Game 4.