PHILADELPHIA -- Chris Pronger didn't even speak to the media this morning, but that's not keeping him from being a topic of conversation before tonight's Game 4. A lot of people are wondering if the relaxed Flyers are beginning to get in the heads of the Chicago Blackhawks, who still lead this Stanley Cup Final two games to one, and Pronger of course is the man who leads that charge.
He's (back)-page news in Chicago this morning, described as "PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER ONE" by the Chicago Sun-Times. He was the topic of questions directed at Blackhawks players following their morning skate, and one of them in particular, goaltender Antti Niemi, talked about the pressure of playing in the Wachovia Center.
"It's incredibly loud and they play a physical game, especially at home, said Niemi, as translated by Euroflyers. "It's a tough spot for the away team, but we did fine in the previous game. We just have to keep working."
Pronger-hell was also hinted at by Jonathan Toews in this morning's Daily News:
"It is what it is," said Hawks captain Jonathan Toews, who has just one point in this series. "He's going to go out there and be physical. It doesn't matter how many whacks you're going to take from a guy like that in front of their net, the second you turn around and give him one, you have to be careful, because that's what [referees] are looking for is retaliation."
"I don't know how he would be getting into our heads, whether it's vocally or what not," Toews said. "He's not talking a lot out there. He's playing. He's doing his job the way he knows he can do it. So I mean, he's just one player. I don't think it's that big of a deal."
But that's precisely the thing there. Chris Pronger gets in your head just by doing his job.
Some more notes from today so far at the Wachovia Center after the jump.
- It's looking more and more like James van Riemsdyk will be back in the lineup tonight over Dan Carcillo.
- Andrew Ladd is a game time decision.
- Okay, let's get to this now. Dan McNeil. Chicago Tribune. Uhhh, he sat in section 10something on Wednesday night apparently looking for trouble, and, well... just read the article. I'll keep my thoughts to myself on yet another unoriginal Philly-bashing piece of litter box liner (okay, so comments kept partially to myself). His email is presumably dmcneil at chicagosuntimes.com.
- Some great stats coming up...
- ... Chicago is 5-0 in the playoffs after a loss. The Flyers are 8-0 in Games 4, 5, 6 and 7 in these playoffs. Tonight is a Game 4 and Chicago lost their last game. Something has to give.
- ... from Meech on Twitter: "Blackhawks haven't won in Philly since Patrick Kane was 8." In fact, the last win came in November of 1996 when this building was just a month old.
- ... the two teams have been tied or separated by one goal 96% of the series (178:16 of 185:59).
... Michael Leighton is 5-0 with two shutouts, a 1.18 GAA and a .958 save percentage at home in the playoffs.
- ... Chris Pronger needs one more point to tie Doug Crossman's playoff record for most points by a Flyers defenseman. Crossman had 18 in 26 games, Pronger has 17 through 20.
- Kelly Sutherland and Stephen Walkom are your referees tonight. Steve Miller (band?) and Jean Morin are your linesmen.