Pronger visits Flyers; team works on shootouts

Illya Bryzgalov looks over his shoulder as the Islanders score the game-winning goal in a shootout. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)

Sporting a beard, Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger visited with his teammates at their practice facility in Voorhees on Wednesday.

"It was nice to see Chris," center Danny Briere said. "We all know and understand he’s been having a hard time and we all would if we were in his situation. It’s tough to be away from the game that long. We’re all competitors. We want to be out there. It was nice for us to see him walk around here, smiling and chatting with the guys."

Pronger is sidelined for the season with a concussion.

“He seemed happy. Not lots of joy. I’m sure he’d rather be dressing with us. He seemed like he was in a good mood."

Asked if the team's captain was making progress, Briere said, "I didn’t ask him about that. I tried to leave him alone as much as possible. I'm sure he gets that everywhere he goes."

Rookie Matt Read said Pronger walked around the locker room and “made sure he connected with everybody.”

Pronger, 37, stayed at the rink for about 90 minutes, chatting with teammates. He declined a request to speak with the media.

"I'm hanging in there," one staffer said Pronger told him.

Pronger was invited to a Super Bowl party with his teammates at Scott Hartnell's Old City loft on Sunday, but declined because he wasn't feeling well.

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Saying he wanted to show “courage,” Mike Richter, a clown with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s circus, donned goalie equipment and faced shots from the Flyers’ Marc-Andre Bourdon, Zac Rinaldo and Tom Sestito following practice Wednesday in Voorhees.

Richter has the same name as the former Rangers standout goalie from Flourtown. He will be among those performing at the Wells Fargo Center Feb. 22-27 - with the circus, not with an NHL team.

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The Flyers are 1-5 in shootouts this season and an NHL-worst 20-39 in franchise history. That explains why they spent the first part of Wednesday's practice working on the shootout.

At one point, goalie Ilya Bryzgalov stopped seven straight before Wayne Simmonds beat him with a backhander.

Bryzgalov entered the season with a respectable track record in shootouts: He was 19-22 with a .660 save percentage.

This season, he is 0-4 and has stopped just two of 10 shots (.200).

As a team, Flyers shooters are only 5 for 17 in shootouts this season.

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The Flyers have won just 12 of 25 games at home, where they are a head-scratching 12-8-5, including Tuesday's 1-0 shootout loss to the Islanders.

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The Flyers' Brayden Schenn will oppose his brother, Toronto defenseman Luke Schenn, when the teams meet Thursday at the WFC.

Brayden Schenn said he is aware of rumors that his brother could be dealt to the Flyers.

"Absolutely," Schenn said when asked if he would like to be teammates with his brother. "It would be unbelievable to play together."

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Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.