"The playoffs are more physical, so you need to play more physical. You’re trying to grind and wear down the other team, and play hard on their top players and wear on them. You may not get them in Game 1. You may not get them in Game 2. But, hopefully by Game 5 or 6 the price that they have to pay to get to those tougher areas has taken its toll."
>> Chris Pronger, via the Flyers
After Chris Pronger's devastating hit on Jody Shelley this past Sunday, I saw something written by a fan on Twitter that said -- and I'm paraphrasing here -- it only took 81 and a half games for Pronger to lay down one of the bone-crunching hits we were promised.
My first thought when reading that was that we haven't seen a game with the kind of playoff intensity that Sunday's match up had in those first 81 games. It's the playoffs now, and this is what Chris Pronger brings this time of year. We've seen it all year to an extent, whether it's intimidating John Tavares or just a subtle little stick in the back of Sidney Crosby. But now it's playoff time, and Pronger is going to step up the anger.
It's yet to be seen if Pronger will face off against Ilya Kovachuk's line or Zach Parise's line for the majority of this series (although judging from the last game, expect Parise), but no matter who that unlucky player is, Pronger is going to make their life a living hell for the next two weeks or so.
I asked Arthur over at SBN's Anaheim Calling to recall a story about Pronger's impact in the postseason. Here's what he had to say.
I would say my best playoff Pronger story is the 2006 Edmonton series, believe it or not. There was a lot of talk of the Selanne/Pronger rivalry going into it. Four years earlier, Selanne retaliated for some elbows in the Blues/Sharks series by checking Pronger from behind in the Olympics, and everyone assumed it would boil over again. But it didn't. Pronger just played a controlled shutdown game and frustrated the hell out of Selanne.
I think Parise and/or Kovalchuk are in for a rude welcome, but there is one concern about Pronger stepping up his physical play in the postseason. If you recall, during the Ducks' run to the Cup back in 2007, Pronger was suspended a few times during the postseason. I asked Arthur about those as well. Should we be concerned?
People always seem to be concerned about Pronger going into the playoffs, but his suspensions in the Ducks' Cup year were an anomaly. Last year, I think he had something like one penalty against the Sharks, and it was a blatant crosscheck where he knocked Cheechoo three feet forward to remind him the front of the crease wasn't a KOA. He's smarter than people give him credit for, and he can adapt his game for springtime.
I have a feeling that we'll be able to replace Cheechoo with the names of a few Devils' players when talking about Pronger's play in the postseason a year from now. Seeing Chris Pronger in the postseason might be the one thing I'm looking forward to most this playoff year, and that will no doubt lead to more videos like this.