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Pronger: Defense is improved

Team MVP from last year likes roster additions on blue line

Tuesday, 07.20.2010 / 9:54 AM ET / News
By Kevin Kurz  - philadelphiaflyers.com
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Pronger: Defense is improved
(Voorhees, NJ) – At 35 years of age Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger showed no signs of slowing down last season, his first as a Flyer, during the club’s exhilarating run to Stanley Cup Final. That being said, he wouldn’t mind lessening his workload a bit.
Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger answers a question during a news conference at the NHL Stanley Cup Final on Tuesday, June 8, 2010, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

“You need to have that depth so that you aren’t skipping a beat and you’re not playing 30 minutes a night on defense. You are playing 22-25 minutes a night,” said Pronger from the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone on Monday morning. “It allows you to try and stay a little fresher.”

Last year, Pronger saw his ice time climb from 25:55 in the regular season (fifth in the league) to 29:03 in the playoffs (most in the league). Although he takes great care of himself off of the ice and manages his energy well on the ice, he likes the additions the team has made on the back end. Andrej Mezsaros and Sean O’Donnell will join the team and instantly add more depth and skill to the Top 6, giving Philadelphia what some have argued as the best defense corps in the league along with Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Matt Carle and Oskars Bartulis. Matt Walker, acquired via trade with Tampa Bay on Monday, also adds some more size, toughness and depth.

The should allow the Flyers to roll three pairs with more frequency, giving players like Pronger more time to recharge their batteries between shifts. It’s a welcome development.

“You relish the minutes and you relish the opportunity to play at the competitive level that you are playing, but at the same time, you have to look at the big picture,” he said. “Obviously, [Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren] did that by addressing this and acquiring guys at positions that we needed.

“I think with Meszaros and O’Donnell, we are obviously trying to shore up our defense pairings and give us a little more depth back there. This will probably take some minutes off Kimmo and I, and Coby and Matty. So, we will be able to hopefully roll three sets a little more frequently and keep us all a little more sharp and fresh.”

Pronger, who is back the area to train for a few weeks, also isn’t surprised that the roster had to undergo some transition even after the (mostly) successful playoff run.

“Whenever you go to the Final and you have success like this, you have to make some tough decisions. There are always guys that will have to come off your team and there are always holes to fill. This year is no different.

“For the most part, if you look at our team from last year to this upcoming season, the nucleus is still there. We have a great core of players and I think we will be that much more ready to take that next step with the run that we made in the playoffs and the experience that we gained. We saw what it is going to take for us to be successful and win a Stanley Cup. We were close, but not close enough. That is something that we can build on next season, and in the future.”

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  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 52 39 9 4 171 117 82
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 NYI 52 28 18 6 145 129 62
5 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 BOS 53 28 19 6 153 146 62
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14 BUF 54 21 27 6 124 146 48
15 CBJ 55 21 28 6 137 170 48
16 TOR 52 19 24 9 120 144 47

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2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 52 16 29 -8 45
J. Voracek 52 8 34 -3 42
W. Simmonds 52 19 16 -7 35
B. Schenn 50 14 15 -2 29
S. Gostisbehere 34 9 19 3 28
S. Couturier 40 9 15 9 24
M. Read 51 9 9 -5 18
S. Laughton 52 4 10 -7 14
M. Del Zotto 50 4 9 -10 13
M. Raffl 52 6 6 2 12
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 12 14 7 .915 2.70
M. Neuvirth 11 6 2 .933 2.14
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