Chris Pronger's state is unknown

Updated: April 22, 2011, 3:14 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

PHILADELPHIA -- The mystery surrounding a possible return Friday night of veteran Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger remains, though the team after the morning skate called his Game 5 status a game-time decision.

Pronger has missed all four games of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Buffalo Sabres because of a broken hand, which required surgery in mid-March and has sidelined him since.

But his continued work taking shots Friday morning suggested he was preparing to play in what looms as the biggest game of this series, which currently is tied at two.

Pronger will not speak to the media until after he returns to game action. But he was on the ice long after his teammates had left, working on wrist shots and the occasional slap shot, although it did not appear as if he was able to use his full force.

Coach Peter Laviolette would not answer any lineup questions Friday, but did say he was encouraged by Pronger's shooting.

"I watched him today out there. I thought he looked good," Laviolette said.

As for Jeff Carter, the big center did not take part in the morning skate, and indications are he will not be in the lineup for Game 5 after he collided knee-on-knee with Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers Wednesday in Game 4.

Ben Holmstrom was on the ice for the morning skate and would be Carter's replacement in the lineup. Holmstrom played in two regular-season games for the Flyers this season.

Carter led the team in goal-scoring in the regular season with 36. His absence would put even more pressure on a Flyers lineup that has been shut out in both losses in this series. The Flyers' power play has struggled as well, going 2-for-21.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said he isn't concerned about who may be in the lineup.

"I am worried solely about my team. That's all I'm worried about. If they dress Player A or Player B, we know they're good players. They wouldn't be in there if they weren't good players," Ruff said.

Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com.

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