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Return Flight: Pronger laughs in DiPietro’s face

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For trying to fight Daniel Carcillo, not for being Rick DiPietro.

NHLI via Getty Images

Throughout the season, we’ll be taking a walk down memory lane whenever the Flyers open their season series against an opponent. We’ll be remembering a game, goal, or highlight Philly created while playing against that particular team. It won’t always be the most notable memory the Orange and Black have against that team, but it’ll be something that Flyers’ fans will want to remember.

There are a few things that come to mind when someone says the name Chris Pronger. For one, he was one of the best defenseman to ever play the game, as illustrated by his Norris Trophy and Hart Trophy for his play during the 1999-00 regular season. He was also a major piece for the Anaheim Ducks during their run to a title in the 2007 postseason. Even though he only has one Cup to his name, Pronger had major influences on the Stanley Cup Final appearances of the 2005-06 Edmonton Oilers (the eight seed in the Western Conference) and the 2009-10 Philadelphia Flyers (the seven seed in the Eastern Conference). He also helped to push the eighth-seeded 2008-09 Ducks to a Game 7 in the second round against the Detroit Red Wings after they upset the top-seeded San Jose Sharks in the opening round.

Although there are many things to point to as to why Pronger is one of the better d-men to ever play the game, the majority of his opponents will remember him for something else: being a dick. Before coming to the Flyers, Pronger received a pair of one-game suspensions during the 2007 postseason for a hit on Tomas Holmstrom and an elbow to the head of Dean McAmmond, an eight-game suspension for stomping on Ryan Kesler’s leg in March of 2008, and a few other suspensions since he joined the league in 1993.

Once he joined the Flyers, he continued to let the league know who ran the show. To go along with a particular comment following a goal being called off in overtime of a loss to the Calgary Flames, Pronger was a headline-producing machine during the 2010 Stanley Cup Final. He stole pucks, shot a rally towel at former Flyer Ben Eager after Game 2 before essentially calling him dumb, reminded Adam Burish he’s Adam Burish, and put big hits on Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews in the series. With a laundry list of noteworthy incidents and quotes, it’s understandable as to why his treatment of Rick DiPietro during a regular season game in 2010 didn’t exactly grab headlines.

Before the current NHL divisional format was implemented before the 2013-14 season, the league consisted of three divisions of five teams in each conference. The Western Conference was made up of the Central, Pacific, and Northwest Divisions. The Eastern Conference was made up of the Northeast, Southeast, and Atlantic, which was the Flyers’ division. Along with Philly, the Atlantic featured the Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, and the New York Islanders.

The Islanders finished last in the division from 2007-08 until the 2011-12, something the Flyers used to their advantage. Thanks to the NHL’s decision that divisional opponents should meet eight times during the regular season from 2005-06 through 2007-08 before reducing that number to six from 2008-09 until 2011-12, the Orange and Black played the Isles 32 times. In those 32 meetings, the Flyers were 28-3-1 with the team’s most notable stretch of dominance coming from March 1, 2008 to March 9, 2010 when they beat New York in 15 straight games. Philadelphia even pounded the Islanders when they seemed out of sync while playing the rest of the league, as evidenced with two wins over their divisional opponent during a 17-game stretch in the 2009-10 regular season when they went 3-13-1 overall.

The Flyers’ 15-game winning streak over the Islanders came to a close on April 1, 2010 when they dropped a 6-4 decision. The next time the teams met, the Orange and Black defeated the division’s punching game once again to start an eventual eight-game winning streak over the Isles. The 6-1 victory on October 30, 2010 was memorable not only for the five-goal margin, but for the number of shenanigans that took place during the game.

The first period was rather innocent, as Kimmo Timonen cut to the slot for a goal 2:36 in and Jeff Carter gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead (perhaps with a little help from James Wisniewski) before the close of the frame.

By the 4:32 mark of the second period, the Flyers had a 4-0 lead thanks to Carter’s second of the game and a blast from Pronger on the power play while Wisniewski sat in the box for roughing. Immediately after the faceoff at center ice following Pronger’s goal, Daniel Carcillo and Zenon Konopka decided to mix it up.

A little over three minutes after Carcillo and Konopka fought, Trent Hunter ran Andrej Meszaros from behind to earn himself a five-minute boarding major and a game misconduct.

Thanks to DiPietro getting a minor penalty for leaving the crease (as evidenced in the video above) the Flyers had a 5-on-3 power play for a full two minutes. Two goals took place in that two-minute span, but one came from the Islanders...on a penalty shot. Frans Nielsen was awarded the attempt after Pronger hauled him down and the current Detroit Red Wing ended Sergei Bobrovsky’s shutout bid 8:09 into the middle stanza.

Despite Nielsen’s unique goal, the Flyers restored their four-goal lead just 1:12 later when Pronger scored his second power-play goal of the period. Pronger’s first two goals of the 2010-11 season came just 4:49 apart. Andreas Nodl, who scored 11 of his 15 goals over five NHL seasons in 2010-11, scored the game’s final goal with 4:58 left in the second off a nice feed from James van Riemsdyk.

Although the goal scoring was finished, the action was far from over. With a little over eight minutes left in the contest, Carcillo and Konopka engaged in violence for a second time that day.

A little less than five minutes later, Trevor Gillies, who had 261 penalty minutes in 57 games over four seasons, attempted to mix it up as well. Unfortunately for Gillies, the chaos he created in front of the Flyers’ net with Braydon Coburn and Danny Briere led to the Islanders’ enforcer accruing three roughing minors and a game misconduct while the Flyers received zero PIMs.

Nearing the end of the game, Nielsen and Briere lined up for a faceoff in New York’s zone following an abuse of officials minor to former Flyer Jon Sim. Nielsen decided this shouldn’t be a normal meeting at the dot, as he evidently had a few choice words for Briere before settling in for the draw. This is what happened, according to Briere:

“[Nielsen] was mad because we were two on Gillies in front of the net a few faceoffs before and all I was trying to do was hold his arm because he was trying to hit Coburn, and obviously, we didn’t want anybody fighting Gillies. We wanted to leave him on the ice. So all I was trying to do was hold his arm to protect Coburn a bit.

[On the faceoff with 1:02 left] Nielsen called me a few expletive words and didn’t appreciate that I was doing that and the faceoff before he did the same thing to me. He came over with his stick, had me in a head lock. So I didn’t know what he was doing. I just wanted to keep my hands high and try to protect myself.”

Briere responded to Nielsen’s words by, ah, smacking him in the face with his stick. Maybe not the ideal reaction, especially because it landed Briere a three-game suspension, but a response was somewhat warranted following Nielsen’s attempted display of masculinity. To make matters worse for Nielsen, Carcillo gave him a shot while he was being slashed in the face by Briere.

After Nielsen dropped to the ice, Briere skated by the net, which is when DiPietro attempted to fight the Flyers’ diminutive forward, and even got his glove and blocker off before being contained by Pronger. This is when Philly’s defenseman decided to have a little fun with the struggling Islanders’ netminder. While leaning down to hear DiPietro’s case for why the goalie should be able to chase after Carcillo, Pronger laughed in his face…

Still courtesy of Hockey Fights

...before he let the referee know he was going to let DiPietro go at Carcillo.

Still courtesy of Hockey Fights

Ultimately, the refs stepped in and didn’t allow a fight to happen between Carcillo and DiPietro, which was probably for the best. The goalie proceeded to yell a few more things at Carcillo before everything eventually cooled down. Briere earned a five-minute major for cross checking and a game misconduct, while Nielsen and Carcillo earned 10-minute misconducts. For the second time in the game, DiPietro earned himself a goalie leaving the crease minor.

The final minute of regulation went by without another confrontation, but the PIM totals were still rather high. The Flyers had 47 penalty minutes to the Islanders’ 73 for a combined total of 120, a total teams haven’t come close to repeating this total in any of their meetings since. They probably won’t come close to these totals in the near future unless both teams acquire a few enforcers, a goalie who has finally lost their cool, and a defenseman who is one of the all-time bests at messing with opponents.

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