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Even with limited ice time, Pronger key in return

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VOORHEES, N.J. -- He only played five shifts totaling 4:33, all on the power play, but for the Philadelphia Flyers just having Chris Pronger in the lineup was a huge advantage.

 

Game 6 was the All-Star defenseman's first game since March 8 due to a broken right hand, and he had one shot and two penalty minutes. The numbers, though, don't tell the story.

 

"It's nice to have his presence in the room," goalie Brian Boucher said. "He's a leader. Guys respect him in this room. To have him out there just for five minutes and have him on the bench and have him chirping out there, it's good. We miss him. We've done a fairly good job without him. He's a guy that we'd love to have in our lineup in a full role, but we'll take him any way we can get him right now."

 

Coach Peter Laviolette dressed seven defensemen for Game 6, which made it easy for him to use Pronger solely on the power play. The coach did not indicate how the lineup would look for Game 7 on Tuesday (7:30 p.m., Versus, TSN), and Pronger was not available to speak with the media following Monday's off-ice workout here at Virtua Health Flyers Skate Zone.

 

Pronger played the point as well as in front of Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, which is where he earned a penalty for slashing during a scrum. The Flyers went 1-for-5 on the power play, after going just 2-for-26 in the first five games.

 

"He was good for us," captain Mike Richards said. "He settled the power play down. Obviously it was a situation that was tough, with (Boucher) stepping in, tough in between periods. To have him in the dressing room was something we benefitted from."

 

Pronger's ability to calm situations on and off the ice was the biggest thing he brought Sunday.

 

"It's just a sense that he's been there before," Richards said. "In the dressing room he says the right things at the right time. Anytime you have the type of player he is, the type of presence he is, been through it all, it's nice to have that settling feeling."

Boucher for Game 7 -- Laviolette wasted little time after Game 6 naming Boucher his starter for Game 7.

 

Boucher relieved Michael Leighton at the start of the second period and allowed just one goal on 25 shots. It also marked the third straight time Boucher has entered a game in relief and helped the Flyers rally to victories. He did it in the final game of the regular season against the New York Islanders, and in Game 2 of this series against the Sabres.

 

"He's certainly proven that he has the mental toughness to handle that (coming off the bench)," Laviolette said. "He's come in and saved us quite a few times this year. And the last three are probably the most impressive.

 

"With those opportunities off the bench, he just came in and settled everything down like he did (Sunday). He really seems to thrive in those situations."

 

Boucher said starting or relieving, his approach doesn't change.

 

"Nothing changes in my pregame routine," he said. "The only thing that might change is the number of shots you get in pregame warm-up. That's all I do, I try to prepare the same way and it's worked out."

 

Richards said people might not realize just how difficult that relief role is.

 

"I don't think people understand how tough the situation that is for him to come in cold off the bench, not seeing any shots until you get thrown right in the fire," he said. "It's a tough situation. That's one thing people don't understand, it's how tough it is and how good he's been at doing it. … He's a guy that doesn't seem to get fazed by the pressure. That's what we need."

 

No supplementary discipline for Richards -- Mike Richards will not face further discipline for his hit on the Sabres' Tim Connolly in the second period of Sunday's game.

 

Richards checked Connolly into the corner boards and Connolly suffered an upper-body injury on the play. He was down on the ice after hitting the boards but eventually skated off the ice under his own power. He did not return to the game, and coach Lindy Ruff has said he won't play in Game 7.

 

Richards was assessed a two-minute minor for boarding, but that will be the only penalty he'll face.

 

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