"I guess he's well rested," Pronger said with a wide smile.
Byfuglien had two goals and two assists -- the first multi-point game for the bulky forward since the sixth game of the second round -- in the Chicago Blackhawks' 7-4 victory over the Flyers in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final at the United Center Sunday night. Beyond just stats, he also tossed in some brawn -- a part of his game that's been as lacking as his scoring in the final.
Seven minutes into the second period, Byfuglien lined up Pronger and sent the 6-foot-6 blueliner toward the corner boards.
"He's out there to battle. So am I," said Byfuglien, whose four-point night ties his career NHL high. "I'm going to try to get the best of him and be strong. That's all I have to do."
Blackhawks vs. Flyers Series Page
Entering Game 5, Byfuglien had only one point in the series and that came via an assist in in Game 2. A lot has been written about whether Pronger and the hard-checking Flyers were getting to Byfuglien, no slouch at 6-foot-4, 257 pounds.
Byfuglien had been on the 'Hawk's first line along with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, a trio that scored 57 points through the first three rounds. But through the first four games of the final, they had only scored four points -- and not one came when they were out together. They also entered as a combined minus-12.
"He hadn't brought it in the first four games," said Kris Versteeg, who played on a line with Byfuglien and Dave Bolland in Game 5. "We knew he could and that's what he did."
Versteeg had a goal and two assists and Bolland had a goal and an assist.
"Yeah, I think he got rid of us and started performing," Kane joked. "That's all he needed. He was a force. He had some big hits. The one on Pronger. I think everyone remembers where he threw him into the boards. Great game overall by him. It's good to see."
More than just shaking things up, Chicago Joel Quennville was able to get the opposition thinking about when to use Pronger.
"I think I wasn't really sure what line they were going to go after as far as Prongs," Quennville said.
Pronger plays about half the game, anyway, so there's no way to avoid him. Byfuglien even decided to go through him, the biggest of his nine hits on the night.
"I'm hurt," chided Pronger. "I'm day-to-day with hurt feelings."
Likewise, Byfuglien said he wasn't out there to make any kind of statement.
"The guy does what he does," Byfuglien said. "You can't ever stop. You have to continue working. The harder you work, the more you're going to get and pressure him."
"We just settled down and played our game and that's a big factor," Byfuglien said.
Now, Byfuglien & Co. will find out if that carries over to the road in Game 6 at Wachovia Center in a series that has yet to see to win away from home.