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Pronger unlikely to skate in opener

by Mike G. Morreale
PITTSBURGH -- It appears as though the Philadelphia Flyers will play their season opener against Thursday against the Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS) without defenseman Chris Pronger.
Pronger was one of the last players off the ice following the team's afternoon skate at Consol Energy Center, a signal that his surgically repaired right knee remains a bit bothersome.

"I guess we'll see how it feels tonight, but I think it needs to get stronger to play in an NHL-caliber game," Pronger told the media after his skate. "I've only had two good practices and I'll need a little more of that. Obviously, I'll gauge how it feels. Some days I'll rest and do strength training and other days we're going to practice and try to get out there as much as I can."
The offseason acquisitions of defensemen Andrej Meszaros, Sean O'Donnell and Matt Walker give the Flyers the luxury of sitting an aching Pronger for a few games if needed.
Pronger, 35, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in August, led the League in ice time (29:03 per game) during the playoffs. He also played a huge role on a Flyers defense that yielded a League-low 2.65 goals per game and allowed just 29.2 shots per game, third-fewest among teams that played at least 10 postseason games.
Pronger admitted he would have joined the team on its road trip to Pittsburgh and St. Louis (Saturday) regardless of whether or not he felt good enough to play.
"I would have come on the trip regardless," he said. "It's about getting in some traffic, some contact and some up-tempo drills that you can't get into when you're doing it by yourself. I'm feeling better as the day goes on."
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette wasn't certain whether or not Pronger would give it a shot against the Penguins when asked following Thursday's practice.
"I haven't talked to Prongs, so we have some lineup decisions to make," he said. "He's coming along. He looked good out there."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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