Pronger skates, but does not practice Tues.

    Will he play or won’t he?

    For the Flyers, Chris Pronger’s availability for Thursday’s opening game of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals is THE main topic as the team prepares to face the Buffalo Sabres.

    Pronger said he was optimistic he would play in the series, but would not comment about Game 1.

     Pronger, who hasn’t played since March 8 because of a broken right hand, skated for about 50 minutes prior to the team’s practice Tuesday at the Skate Zone in Voorhees. He skated with Oskars Bartulis, Matt Walker and Ian Laperriere. Lappy is an unofficial coach with the team.

    Coach Peter Laviolette dropped hints that Pronger would not play in Game 1.

    GM Paul Holmgren said Pronger would try to stickhandle on Wednesday, and then we'll "go from there." He will not try to shoot the puck until at least Thursday.

    Teammate Danny Briere went on a Buffalo radio station and said the star defenseman would not play in Game 1 and could be out a lot longer, but Briere later added that he was just joking.

   "I have no clue whether he's playing," Briere said.

   No one does.

    * * *

   Defenseman Matt Walker cleared re-entry waivers and has joined the team, giving them some insurance on the blue line.

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