Flyers veteran defenseman Chris Pronger met the media Sunday at the United Center … and it was pretty entertaining. Here is the transcript in full:
Q. Chris, just wondering what you felt you guys did well against the [Jonathan] Toews and [Patrick] Kane line last night to essentially keep them off the scoreboard?
CHRIS PRONGER: I think we just did a good job of denying them time and space. If they don’t have the puck, they can’t make plays. And for a lot of their shifts we played in their end, forced them to play defense and really tried to deny the puck to both Kane and Toews. The times they did get it, we closed on them quickly and forced them to dump the puck.
Q. A lot of anticipation about you and the [Dustin] Byfuglien matchup. It looked like you initiated more than we’ve seen in the first three rounds with the player.
CHRIS PRONGER: There was a lot of talk. You guys had a lot to say about him. So I guess we needed to calm that down real quick. I have played in the West for 14 years. I played against him a lot. So it’s not like I’ve been out East for my whole career and never played against the guy. That may have been blown out of proportion, I think.
Q. Did you initiate more last night early on?
CHRIS PRONGER: I just tried to deny him easy access to the front of the net. As I said, the first couple of days I think teams allowed him to just to go stand there. You have to force a guy like that to work. He’s a big guy. But he’s got to exert some energy and work to get into position. That tires guys out that aren’t used to it. You have to pay a price, whatever that may be.
Q. Chris, Danny [Briere] was in here and said last night was important because it proved that we belong with this team, regardless of the loss. Do you feel that way, that because maybe Chicago came in as a big-time favorite in this Series, that you had to prove that you belong, that you could play with this team?
CHRIS PRONGER: Favorite to who? To you guys? This crew in here? All that matters is what we think in that locker room. And that’s it. Whether the world is picking them as favorites, we’ve all seen probably one of the most heavily favored Super Bowls, St. Louis against the New England Patriots. That didn’t turn out very well, did it. A lot of people lost money on that one. I don’t really buy into the favorites, underdogs, all that. I think from the get-go we believe we can beat that team. Do we need to tighten up a few things and play better defensively, absolutely. That’s why it’s a best of seven series.
Q. Chris, it sounds like the goalie situation is up in the air right now.
CHRIS PRONGER: What?
Q. Michael Leighton was able to do the last Series ??
CHRIS PRONGER: That’s news to me. Are you starting to stir the pot? It’s news to me.
Q. That’s what your coach said.
CHRIS PRONGER: Okay. Maybe he’s keeping you on your toes too.
Q. I think he is. What’s your take on the goalie situation. Would you feel bad for Michael if he doesn’t have …
CHRIS PRONGER: I don’t have a take. It is what it is. That’s the coach’s decision. We play the same way whether [Brian Boucher] is in the net or Leights is in the net. It doesn’t matter, it shouldn’t matter to us in front of him. We need to play better in front of him whoever is in the net. That’s the bottom line for us. It doesn’t matter.
Q. Chris, the result of the game aside, speaking as a defenseman, were you like appalled at all the goals that were scored last night?
CHRIS PRONGER: I wasn’t necessarily appalled. Probably more concerned with how the goals were scored, just through defensive lapses, really. It wasn’t like they created a whole lot. It was more on our mistakes. And I guess that could be disheartening and a positive thing. We can clean that up and we won’t be allowing as much.
Q. You’ve been around long enough to see these kind of things where the goalie decision has to be made. Do you think if he were not to put Leighton back in there, that sends a message to the room that I don’t have any confidence in him right now? You’re all saying that it was your fault for what happened last night. Not to go back to him, what do you think that says to the team?
CHRIS PRONGER: I don’t think he’s made up his mind. So it would probably be premature for me to speculate or say anything on the matter, Tim [Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly.com]
Q. Say anything.
CHRIS PRONGER: I don’t think I will. Because I don’t like the way you phrased your question.
Q. Why don’t you phrase it for me.
CHRIS PRONGER: I don’t guess.
Q. You played in Stanley Cup Finals before. Lappy was saying looking around he thought some guys first time being there trying to get used to o it, maybe especially defensively or assignment?wise. Did you see that? And how much more comfortable do you think a lot of these guys will be in Game 2?
CHRIS PRONGER: I think there’s no question it’s good to get a game under your belt, understand the circus we’re in, and obviously the stakes of the games and the atmosphere of the crowd and all the rest of that. The first game is behind us. Everybody kind of knows what’s expected of them now. If they didn’t, they do now.
Whether the guys are nervous or just had mental breakdowns, it happens. The game is a game of mistakes. And how you deal with them and correct them and all the things like that is what makes this game great and makes hockey the sport it is.
Q. Chris, what’s it like this time of year ??
CHRIS PRONGER: I don’t know what Buff did, but …
Q. Stop that. It’s dead now.
CHRIS PRONGER: Well, thank you. Finally.
Q. What does it feel like, especially at this time of year, to be playing 32?plus minutes a game?
CHRIS PRONGER: It’s exhausting. I don’t know. I couldn’t get up this morning. I don’t even know how I’m sitting here. I almost fell asleep.
You know what, it is what it is. It is that time of year. You do what you can to help your team win, whether it’s playing that many minutes or 24 or whatever is asked of you, you do. You prepare yourself to play as much as you’re asked to play. Whether it means you have to shorten your shifts a little bit or alter your game a little bit, you do that.
But I feel good. Had some treatment and feel good. I’m ready to go tomorrow.
Q. You guys played a disciplined game yesterday. Do you think as a team you played physically enough?
CHRIS PRONGER: What do you want me to say? There’s two parts to your question.
Q. I think you guys played a really disciplined game. You stayed out of the box, which is a different experience for you guys. It almost felt like maybe it was a little bit too quiet. Do you feel you need to pick up the aggression a little bit?
CHRIS PRONGER: So you don’t want to us play disciplined?
Q. I’m not trying to coach this team.
CHRIS PRONGER: Okay, well, I don’t know what you are trying to ask me.
Q. Do you think since you didn’t have any penalties, maybe you should play more physically?
CHRIS PRONGER: Should we take more penalties? Is that your question, Tim? I thought she was asking the question. Can we play more physically? Absolutely. I don’t think we need to take more penalties in doing so. I think we got off track by not getting the puck in deep and being physical in that respect.
You know, if we take a couple of penalties, so be it. I don’t think we’re worried about taking penalties. I think we just got off track and started to play a little bit their game, a little bit of run and gun, and that fed into their hand a little bit.
Q. I’ll ask this question for Tim.
CHRIS PRONGER: Does it have stats in it? That’s what he’s good at.
Q. It actually does. [Scott] Hartnell said he and Danny were never told to come off the ice when matched up against Toews and Kane. Danny has never been in the Selke conversation, but he had four points, Tim ??
CHRIS PRONGER: 1 in 3.
Q. And Toews and Kane had no points and minus 3. Talk about their matchup.
CHRIS PRONGER: They did a great job. I think that’s the line with Ville and Danny and Hartsy. They control the puck very well. They’re all good with the puck. They make good plays. They keep it simple. And they can all skate, which helps against a line like that. You can close fast. The more you have the puck, the less chance the other team has of getting it and putting it in your net. As I said at the beginning, against that line, you have to close quickly, you have to eliminate time and space and you have to try to deny them the puck. When you’re playing with it, it forces them out of their rhythm and forces them to play defense, which they obviously don’t want to do.
Q. You’ve played in Stanley Cup Final games in Carolina and Southern California. Is the ice surface this time of the year par for the course, or is it a little bit disappointing considering this is the biggest series of obviously the year and that the conditions are not optimal?
CHRIS PRONGER: Well, it’s pretty hard for them to be optimal in June. It is what it is. It’s getting hot out, humid out. While it is the Windy City, we can’t open up the doors, as we talked about yesterday, and let all that cold wind in. I don’t think it’s any worse than it was in Anaheim or Carolina or whatever. As you’ve progress further in the Playoffs, the ice usually gets a little softer. It’s tough to keep it that cold. We could make it hard, but it would be about 4 degrees in the building. I’m sure the fans wouldn’t appreciate that very much, wearing parkas in June.
Q. As much as these games get magnified and you guys are down 1-0 here, it seems the guys on the ice today are loose. You’re up here joking around. You’re loose. How crucial is it to be loose and relaxed even though you guys have a 1-0 deficit here?
CHRIS PRONGER: Well, the world is not ending, and the sun came up today. It’s a long series. We’re looking at it as a long series. We played a decent game but not our game yesterday, and I think we understand that. The mistakes that were made can be easily corrected, and that’s what we’re looking at.
So I don’t think anybody is hitting the panic button or rushing to do anything rash here. We just need to stay focused and play probably a little more relaxed. Play a little bit more our style, and a little bit more Flyer hockey, as Tim likes to say.