Chris Pronger expects to play as injuries still linger

Injuries limited Chris Pronger to just three games in the playoffs last season, and it’s no secret that the Flyers missed him dearly en route to a disappointing early exit.

The bruising defenseman is hoping history does not repeat itself during the 2011-12 campaign.

Despite the fact that he won’t be ready for the start of camp in mid-September, the 36-year-old Pronger expects to play a full season this year. Injuries also slowed Pronger down during the regular season, as he played in just 50 contests after playing all 82 the year before in his first season in Philadelphia.

“I’m starting to feel a little better and do a little bit more in the gym,”?Pronger said during a conference call yesterday. “The goal is to be ready for Game 1 of the regular season. Once I?get cleared, I can start to get into full lifting programs.”

Pronger has not lifted heavy weights in six months, and was only recently cleared by doctors to start riding an exercise bike. He continues to recover from offseason back surgery and additional rehab for a prior injury to his right hand that plagued Pronger during last year’s postseason.

Though the back surgery was more recent, Pronger claims his back is pain-free and that slow healing in his hand from surgery last March has proven to be more problematic. He said he hopes to be cleared to start lifting weights in about a week.

“Strength for my position and the way I?play is critical,”?said Pronger, who estimated his hand was about 80 to 85 percent healed. “I have to gain my strength back before I?begin skating.”

Pronger offered no answers regarding when his return to the ice will occur.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Until I get into the gym and start lifting, I really couldn’t tell you. I’m not going to speed up the process one bit. It’s going to go as it goes.”