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All-star blueliner Pronger gives Ducks their edge ahead of Senators

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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All-star blueliner Pronger gives Ducks their edge ahead of Senators

The Canadian Press
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"To be as great as he is, to be as effective as he is, he has to play that kind of style," Anaheim teammate Teemu Selanne said. "He has to be right there in the other player's face.

"If he doesn't do that, he's not so effective."

Selanne, a forward, has tangled with the big defenceman many times in his career, including last year when Pronger and the Edmonton Oilers beat Selanne and the Ducks in the Western Conference finals.

"I have had some of my really toughest battles with him," Selanne said Friday after a Ducks workout. "You can't always be a nice guy out there. That's how it goes. It's never personal.

"Adding all the talents and all the tools that he has, his toughness and his grittiness and his little dirtiness here and there, that's what makes him so effective."

Shortly after Edmonton lost to Carolina in the Stanley Cup finals last year, Pronger asked to be traded, and Anaheim snapped him up.

He'll take another shot at winning the Cup when the Ducks' open the NHL championship series Monday in Anaheim against the Ottawa Senators.

"We haven't really accomplished anything yet," Pronger said. "There's still one big step we need to take."

The six-foot-six, 220-pound Pronger is known for his wide arm span and his physical play - he served a one-game suspension during the conference finals for a blow to the head of Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom.

But there's more.

"Prongs is a complete player. He's a Norris Trophy candidate for a reason," Anaheim forward Ryan Getzlaf said. "He's a great defensive guy, but he's leading our team in scoring right now (three goals, 11 assists in 15 post-season games).

"He's smart. He's been in the league for a long time and he knows where guys are and where guys aren't. He'll make that first good pass and he'll take that big shot from the point."

Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said he doesn't know much about Pronger because they've played in different conferences, but, "Obviously (he's) a big guy. Makes good plays with the puck as well."

Pronger has proven a fine complement both on and off the ice to fellow blue-liner Scott Niedermayer, the Ducks' captain who also is a finalist for his second Norris Trophy, given to the league's top defenceman.

Goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere said the pair provide a beneficial, but quite different type of leadership.

"Sometimes Prongs is the guy who's going to speak up. Scotty leads by example on the ice and speaks up when he needs to," Giguere said. "Prongs, sometimes in the dressing room, he'll be vocal, encourage everybody and speak his mind.

"Sometimes you need that kind of leadership in your room, as well."

Ducks defenceman Sean O'Donnell agreed that Pronger is a presence.

"He brings an attitude. He doesn't suffer from a lack of confidence and that rubs off," O'Donnell said. "When he's not in the locker room, it's quieter, a little less abrasive."

Pronger also serves as sort of lightning rod for attention, which Giguere believes benefits his teammates.

"When there's heat going against you, guys like Prongs will take the heat for the rest of the guys," Giguere said. "The energy of the crowd (in road games) is directed toward Prongs instead of the rest of us.

"It's something that doesn't seem to bother him, and it might give some other guys a chance to feel a little bit more comfortable."

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All-star blueliner Pronger gives Ducks their edge ahead of Senators