The good news, for Flyers fans, is that Chris Pronger did not tweak his surgically repaired knee on Wednesday night in Montreal.
The bad news, though, is that there was no real news yesterday from the Flyers camp - other than general manager Paul Holmgren confirming a Daily News report that Pronger suffered an injury to his right foot that caused him to miss the third period.
Pronger had an X-ray and CT scan yesterday in Philadelphia and will see a specialist today.
"He will be evaluated by a foot and ankle specialist," Holmgren said, "and, at that time, we will have a better idea of what we are dealing with."
Just because it's not Pronger's knee doesn't mean the injury won't force him to miss a significant amount of time - just ask Jeff Carter, who was out for a large chunk of last season with fractures in both his right and left feet after blocking shots.
There was no word yesterday on whether Pronger's X-ray was positive or negative for fractures.
Pronger, 36, the Flyers' MVP from last season, missed all of training camp and the first two games of the season after surgery on his knee in late July. Pronger said he has not been 100 percent at any point this season. On Wednesday, he skated in the final 53 seconds of the second period against the Canadiens but did not return for the third period, leaving the Flyers with five defensemen.
The Flyers did not practice yesterday, but you can rest assured that extra defenseman Oskars Bartulis, who has not seen the ice since his third game of the season on Nov. 1, got in some extra work at the Skate Zone in case he needs to replace Pronger in tomorrow's matinee against the Rangers.
Pronger was originally scheduled to accept an outstanding achievement award on behalf of his teammates last night at the Philly Sports Fans Choice awards at the Sheraton Society Hill but could not make it because of the injury.
Now that Jody Shelley is able to return to the lineup - conveniently in time to face his former team, the Rangers - tomorrow after serving his two-game suspension this week, it makes you wonder what Peter Laviolette will do with his lineup.
For the last two games, with just 12 forwards, Laviolette didn't have to make any decisions. That has been a rarity this season, considering some of the talent that has sat out on various occasions as healthy scratches: James van Riemsdyk (four games), Dan Carcillo (seven games), Nik Zherdev (three games) and Andreas Nodl (six games).
It would be hard to imagine Laviolette yanking van Riemsdyk or Zherdev from the lineup, considering their line with Jeff Carter managed to score four of the Flyers' five goals against Montreal.
Nodl has a valuable seven goals this season and has seen time on the penalty kill recently.
That leaves Carcillo and Shelley. The Flyers' record with Carcillo is a ridiculous 14-2-2 this season and just 7-5-3 without him. Laviolette could not tell whether that was a coincidence or not.
"I can't speak for the record but any time you take out pieces of your lineup, you lose something," Laviolette said. "When we've been flat, we talk about not having that physical presence on the ice or that danger on the bench of somebody going out and changing the direction of the game with a big hit or a fight - and Danny gives you that element."
Carcillo said earlier in the week that he strives to be as versatile as possible - whether that means playing in a scoring role on a line with Mike Richards or in a checking role on a line with Darroll Powe.
"The whole way [up to the NHL], I tried to pride myself on being a complete player," Carcillo said. "If that means different things with different guys on different nights, it doesn't really matter who I play with. We have a great lineup."
Carcillo knows firsthand how tough it is, as Laviolette kept him out of the lineup for four games after returning from an MCL sprain on Dec. 4. Laviolette has held other players in the lineup accountable, making them lose their spots rather than just hand it back to a player coming off injury.
If the Flyers were playing any team other than the Rangers, with Derek "the Boogie Man" Boogaard, Shelley might find himself in that same situation coming back. And he still might.
"You've got to make sure that you play hard enough every night and bring energy and hit to stay in the lineup," Carcillo said. "It's a tough lineup to stay in."
Some players visited Virtua Hospital in Voorhees, N.J., yesterday on their day off . . . Tuesday's win over Pittsburgh, nationally televised on Versus, was the highest-rated regular-season hockey game on cable since 2003, averaging 750,000 viewers and peaking north of 1 million. It is the highest-rated regular-season game in Versus' network history. *
For more news and analysis, read Frank Seravalli's blog, Frequent Flyers, at
http://go.philly.com/frequentflyers. Follow him on Twitter at