Pronger 'doing his job'; NHL's replay lesson

June, 3, 2010

PHILADELPHIA -- It wouldn't be a day at the 2010 Stanley Cup finals without Chris Pronger being the center of attention.

This time, on Thursday, it was the Blackhawks questioning whether the star Flyers blueliner was getting away with too much without being penalized as he neutralized Dustin Byfuglien in front of the net or tried to intimidate Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

"I know there's forms and there's mechanisms for us to get our messages across," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said Thursday. "I think there's a couple [of infractions] for sure late in the game. There was one that got my attention, whether it's a stick use or obstruction, I think we'll keep an eye on it."

In other words, Quenneville was planning on bringing it to the attention of series supervisor Mike Murphy.

"[Murphy] will discuss what we see with both teams when he has his meetings with the teams," NHL director of hockey operations Colin Campbell told via e-mail Thursday.

Toews was asked Thursday whether Pronger was getting away with things.

"Yeah, I mean, again that's debatable," Toews said. "It is what it is. 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 they're looking for, is retaliation.

"It's that type of thing where you have to try and accept and take from him because it's the way he plays. It just seems like, you know, it doesn't go as noticed as it would for another player. That's just the way it is. He's done his job. We can still do more to try and take him off his game."

Is Pronger getting into their heads?

"I don't know how he would be getting into our heads, whether it's vocally or whatnot," 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."

Toews and Kane had more jump in Game 3, producing the team's third goal, but Byfuglien has had very little impact. He's been neutralized by Pronger.

"I think you just got to continue denying the easy access to the front of the net and make him work for every inch out there," Pronger said Thursday.

Pronger's impact through three games of the Cup finals has been dramatic.

"He is amazing and seems to be getting better and better with every game in the playoffs, eating more and more minutes, it seems," teammate Daniel Briere said. "That's another guy -- aside from our coach -- he's the only one with a Stanley Cup. His demeanor, his calmness in the dressing room, he just brings a lot of confidence. You look at him and you realize he's been there before. He knows what he's doing."

Whether it's putting Toews in a headlock in Game 3 during a scrum or battling with Byfuglien or hammering Kane, Pronger has been all over the Hawks' top line.

"Well, I think we all know that the playoffs are a battle of attrition and war, and with each game you try to wear on them and grind on them more and force them into situations they are unaccustomed to," Pronger said.

And like many other NHL cities in the past, he is indeed public enemy No. 1 in Chicago.

"It's old hat now," Pronger said. "I think we all understand the game is there for good entertainment. People are paying a lot of money to see a good game. If they want to love to hate somebody, then so be it."

Gotta love instant replay

Around Wachovia Center on Thursday, there was a lot of discussion about the blown call that cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game Wednesday night and the role that instant replay might have played in that case.

Two pivotal plays in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals Wednesday were determined by video replay. First, Scott Hartnell's deflected goal was ruled good after review, and then a potential overtime goal by Simon Gagne was denied after the video replay.

"Well, obviously, I think baseball is wishing they had it or the guy in Detroit obviously wishes he had it last night, but it just keeps the game fair," Philadelphia netminder Michael Leighton said Thursday. "Sometimes, it slows the game down when you have to wait for it to go to Toronto and get looked at, but at least you know what really happened, and you get to know the truth and whether a goal does go in.

"Sometimes for a goalie's sake, you know the puck is in the net, but they can't see it, and that's tough. But it is nice to go back and look at those goals and say, 'Yeah, it went in, [or] no, it didn't go in.' The one goal we scored that I think Hartnell scored, from two angles, it looked like it didn't go in. The one angle it looked like it did, and they called it a goal. It is good that they have it in the NHL, for sure."

The big line

We're three games into the Stanley Cup finals, and Philadelphia's top line still hasn't scored during five-on-five play.

But Flyers coach Peter Laviolette insisted Thursday that he's OK with the production of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Gagne, even though they are a combined minus-14 for the series.

"I think that Mike is working hard to make sure that our team is successful, along with every other guy in the room," Laviolette said. "I'm sure he wishes probably they were contributing more points [to] perform, but they're getting lots of chances. Typically from me, when the chances are there, the points usually follow.

"He's getting the puck to Carter and Gagne. Carter had 12 attempts at the net last night. Gagne had five attempts at the net last night. They've gotten some looks that they want. They just haven't been able to fall for them. He had a couple of chances on the power play. He had a look at a couple of side empty nets and just fired a bit high. So it's only a matter of time for me."

Richards, the Flyers' captain, has been brilliant in these playoffs before the Cup finals. He'd obviously like to put one on the board soon.

"It would be nice to contribute, obviously, offensively," Richards said Thursday. "We're just having tough luck right now around the net. We're having opportunities, but we're missing nets, and [Hawks netminder Antti Niemi is] making saves.

"I don't want to put too much pressure, saying if we don't score we're going to lose, because I think we have enough depth in our lineup that on any given night, anybody can score and have success. So I'm not going to go that far, but it definitely would be nice to contribute and get some goals."

Scott Burnside

ESPN Senior Writer

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer



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