In talking about the Flyers’ late season struggles, many overlook the fact that most of them came without Chris Pronger in the lineup.
The NHL’s goofy scoring method makes it difficult to track wins and losses with and without Pronger (Do I include OT losses? Shootout wins? Shootout losses? Fuckin’ rock, paper, scissors decisions?). So I decided to oversimplify it: wins and non-wins. If the Flyers got two points, it was a win. If they got less than two points, a loss. It’s not very scientific (ie: Chris Pronger has no impact on a shootout), but it gives an idea of the Flyers’ success when he’s suited up.
Tells you all you need to know.
As if that’s not enough… While the Flyers started their downfall before Pronger left the lineup on March 8th, their losing (four straight beginning on February 26th) coincided with his hand injury, which was said to have happened against the Islanders on February 24th. After Pronger left the lineup, the Flyers were 6-10 (7-14 since his hand injury).
Our friends over at Broad Street Hockey provide some additional evidence for just how much Pronger impacts the Flyers. They used super-nerdy Corsi Numbers to show how the team's play has taken a very specific and visible dip when they were without Pronger.
Of course his on-ice play is missed, but Pronger also has ability to deflect attention away from teammates. Have you noticed how poorly Mike Richards has handled the media lately? Someone doesn’t like answering the tough questions. Guess who does? Chris Pronger.
Pronger, especially in a playoff series, has no problem (he almost revels in it) confronting the media and taking the heat off his teammates. Do you really think those puck shenanigans last year were because he’s exactly that type of prick? No. They opened him – instead of his teammates – up to the media crush of the Finals, where, oh by the way, the Flyers had just lost two games.
They need him, folks.