5 Flyers That Need to Step Up in Chris Pronger's Absence

Eric CaspersonCorrespondent IIMarch 15, 2011

5 Flyers That Need to Step Up in Chris Pronger's Absence

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    Reports came out yesterday that Chris Pronger will need surgery to repair a fracture in his right hand.

    He will miss three to four weeks, but should return in time for the playoffs.

    This will be the second time that Pronger has missed significant time this season. He has already missed 18 games thus far.

    With Pronger being out again, the Flyers need some of their veterans to step up and take control. The Flyers control their own destiny.

    They are still in first place, but Washington and Pittsburgh are creeping up on them. Just two-and-a-half weeks ago, the Flyers were ahead of Washington by 12 points and Pittsburgh by eight.

    Now only three points separate all three teams.

    The best chance the Flyers have at making a run to the Stanley Cup is for the Eastern Conference to go through Philly.

    These players have to step up and fill the void that Chris Pronger left in order to secure that No. 1 seed.

5. Matt Carle

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    Matt Carle, Chris Pronger's line mate, will have to continue to have a great season.

    Carle has been hiding in the shadow of Pronger all season long. He is quietly having one of the best seasons of his career.

    He is one assist shy of his career high of 31 and his plus-21 is a career high.

    Now paired with newcomer Nick Boynton, Carle must lead the top defensive line.

4. Mike Richards

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    There were times last year when fans did not know who the "real" captain was of this team.

    As time went by though, we all found out that Mike Richards was the leader of the Flyers.

    Richards has turned into a leader both on and off the ice. For the most part, he leads solely by example.

    The energy he brings to the ice each night ignites the rest of the team.

    Richards has been more of a playmaker this season instead of a scorer. If the Flyers want to secure first place and advance in the playoffs, Richards needs to get the scorer's mentality he had in last year's postseason.

3. Kimmo Timonen

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    Kimmo Timonen will now be the go-to guy on the Flyers blue line, especially on the power play.

    In November, the Flyers ranked eighth in the NHL and converted on power play opportunities 21.9 percent of the time.

    They now sit in the middle of the pack with a 17.3 percent power play.

    Coach Peter Laviolette has been changing the power play lines rapidly in order to find something that works.

    With Pronger now out again, Timonen will become the lead guy on the blue line.

    Somehow, the Flyers need to get their power play figured out by the playoffs or else they will not advance.

2. Brian Boucher and Sergei Bobrovsky

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    It does not matter which goalie is in net, whether it is Sergei Bobrovsky or Brian Boucher. The Flyers defense now takes a hit with Chris Pronger being out for about a month.

    Bobrovsky has been getting the bulk of the starts in March, going 1-3-1. Boucher is 1-1, including a terrible game in New York where he had to be pulled in the second period.

    The last month will decide which goaltender will be the starter in the playoffs.

    Both have to step up their games and be ready for an onslaught of shots now with Pronger out.

    One has to step up and stake a claim as the No. 1 goalie.

1. Nick Boynton

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    Nick Boynton now steps in as Chris Pronger's replacement. No one will fill the big skates of Pronger, but Boynton must step in and be a reliable defenseman.

    Boynton, who had been a healthy scratch for 22 games this season, will now step in to the Flyers top line.

    Boynton played well in his debut last week, according to coach Peter Laviolette. He said, "Boynts was good jumping in like that."

    Boynton does not need to lead the team like Pronger did, but he has to step in and step up in order for the Flyers to remain atop the Eastern Conference.