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Flyers leaning heavy on Chris Pronger

With the playoffs upon us, the Philadelphia Flyers in the playoffs and after a game one upset of the Devils the spotlight is shining bright on Chris Pronger once more. And with Pronger playing the resident territorial bad guy in front of the Flyers net as he bats away those pesky Devils forwards, obviously the comparisons will be made the great Devils bad boy himself, Scott Stevens.

San Donnelion of the Philly Daily News has a great, lengthy story up this morning on how Pronger and Stevens compare, even though Stevens played in a ‘different’ era of hockey. Although Pronger is certainly a call back to that former style of hockey -- the big, physical and punishing defenseman -- he’s been able to adjust and still be successful as the game has evolved.

He’s taking on an even bigger role with the Flyers in the playoffs, playing more and more minutes as he works to shut down the top lines the Devils can offer. While there are certainly times that Pronger is caught flat footed and the Flyers get burned, there’s no doubt his presence is felt and makes a difference for the opposition. Says Danny Briere:

“When you play 30 minutes, it means you’re covering two different lines,” Danny Brieresaid after practice yesterday. “You play a team like Bostonand you have Zdeno Charain your face all night long. It gets old pretty fast. You have six forwards on the other team saying, ‘I had Pronger in my face all night long.’ It gets old. Maybe not in Game 1 or Game 2, but when you come down to Game 5 or Game 6, that’s when you see it pay off.”

While I will never completely agree with Pronger’s approach to the game, there’s no doubt that he will have to be a difference maker for the Flyers this postseason; and he should be. The Flyers are paying him an incredible amount of money at a late stage in his career to do just that; wreak havoc and cause all sorts of issues as protects his net. With Brian Boucher tasked to carry the Flyers as far as he can, Pronger is even more important.