Chris Pronger isn't quite certain who took the shot that broke his foot, and he's even less certain whether his absence from the Flyers' lineup will be for a month, six weeks, or longer.

But the Flyers' star defenseman has no doubt the club is better equipped than a year ago to get by without him.

"I think this is one of the exact reasons and instances why we made the moves we did in the off-season - to have more depth through our defense corps," Pronger said Saturday, speaking for the first time since he broke the first metatarsal bone in his right foot Wednesday in Montreal.

The 36-year-old Pronger underwent surgery Friday.

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren added depth to the blue line by acquiring Andrej Meszaros and Sean O'Donnell, giving the team three solid pairings. Meszaros leads the Flyers in the plus-minus category with a plus-21 and O'Donnell is second at plus-18.

"When Homer made these moves, he talked about our top four defensemen missed a total of about two or four games [last season], something silly that most teams don't go through," Pronger said. "It was just a matter of time. One of us was going to get hurt at some point."

The Flyers dressed seldom-used Oskars Bartulis in Pronger's place for Saturday's game against the New York Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center. It was only the fourth game of the season for Bartulis, who was paired with O'Donnell for most of the game.

"I thought Oskars did a terrific job," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "He was very aggressive in our system."

Matt Carle, who usually plays alongside Pronger, was with Meszaros, while Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn remained together and now form the No. 1 pairing.

Pronger typically plays the point on the first power-play unit with Timonen, but Laviolette employed four forwards with the man advantage against the Rangers, using Claude Giroux at the point with Timonen.

Pronger said screws were inserted during the surgery to help strengthen the foot and perhaps speed along the healing process. His injury has been compared to one suffered by Jeff Carter during the first round of last season's playoffs. Carter returned after 41/2 weeks but said he was far from 100 percent, raising concerns that Pronger may be lost for more than the four-to-six-week timetable. During the postseason, players often return from injuries prematurely.

"Everybody's different," Pronger said. "His injury, while you may think it's similar because it's the foot, it's different. He had a plate put in, and I had a couple of screws."

Pronger injured his foot blocking a shot in the second period. He thinks the shot was by Brian Gionta.

Notes. The attendance of 19,898 was the fourth largest for a regular-season game in Flyers history. . . . The Flyers were 1 for 4 on the power play. They are 5 for 33 in the last nine games, yet haven't lost in regulation. . . . In nine December games, the Flyers have collected 15 of a possible 18 points.