Old friend Chris Pronger of the Philadelphia Flyers is back in a spot he’s used to…a game away from the NHL’s conference finals. Even though he didn’t wind up on the scoresheet, Pronger commanded the defensive zone for Philadelphia in a 2-1 win over Boston that forced game seven in the series on Friday night.
In the season after leaving the Blues, Pronger led the Edmonton Oilers to the Stanley Cup finals. After one year in Edmonton, he was traded to Anaheim, where he led the Ducks to the championship. Since being traded by the Blues, Pronger has played in 73 post-season games and bee part of nine series wins. The Blues have played in a single playoff series, losing it 4-0.
Last off-season, the cap challenged Ducks moved Pronger to Philadelphia, and he’s doing it again. In his fifth season removed from the Blues, Pronger has a chance to get to his third conference finals. During the regular season, he had his typical year. In the last five seasons, he’s had 12, 13, 12, 11 and 10 goals, and finished with between 43 and 59 points. This year, he had 55 points…similar to his 56 and 59 point seasons in the years he was in the finals. Beyond his offense, Pronger is still a guy that you can put in his own zone by himself, and more often than not he’s going to keep the puck out of the net. He’s that dominant in his own zone, and he’s smarter than ever.
Pronger is still logging tons of ice time…about 30 minutes per game. He’s scoring points. But he’s a different player than he was here. Through 11 playoff games, Pronger has just six penalty minutes. While still an effective force, he isn’t taking the bad penalties that he did, for example, in 2000…when he had 32 minutes in seven games, or 01, when he had 32 minutes in 15 games in his only conference finals trip as a Blue.
Pronger has a chance, with a win on Friday, to be in his conference’s finals for the third time in five years. I have a feeling he’s more than just a good luck charm.