Chris Pronger is on his way back.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Pronger has been cleared to resume skating after suffering a broken foot in mid-December against the Montreal Canadiens. The team has gone 6-3 in his absence, having been blown out by the Florida Panthers, Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks while returning the favor to the New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils, and Los Angeles Kings.
Pronger could return to the team to practice as early as Friday, when the Flyers travel to Atlanta to take on the Thrashers. I don’t know the timetable for his first game back, but it sounds like he’d be ready by the time they return home to face the Washington Capitals.
The good that has come out of this is the chance to see how the team reacts to the loss of one of their best players. Matt Carle has been a little shaky in his partner’s absence, but while his most visible turnovers would suggest he’s been awful, he’s been playing decently with Andrej Meszaros. Oskars Bartulis, meanwhile, started off poorly but has since regained his composure with Sean O’Donnell. In his defense (no pun intended), he sat for around 19 games before jumping back into an NHL game.
If there’s anything that this team has learned since last season, it’s how to bounce back in the face of adversity. Gone are the inconsistent Flyers who fail to show up from night to night. It’s as much a credit to general manager Paul Holmgren for assembling the team he has as it is to coach Peter Laviolette for getting the best out of his team.
Entering the second half of the season, getting back Pronger will help the team acquire home ice advantage in the playoffs.