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OTTAWA – With a forearm to the head of Ottawa forward Dean McAmmond, Chris Pronger turned himself into a stay-at-home defenseman.

The Anaheim Ducks' tower of power will sit and watch Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals, banned by the league for one game for a forceful hit to the head that caused an injury.

What the Ducks will admit is that they'll miss his reach. Pronger might have the best in the league. What his feet can’t do, his stick usually can, and Pronger's wingspan was a big reason why Ottawa's long-distance, dump-and-chase attack faltered in Games 1 and 2.

They'll miss his tempo. Few control the pace of the game better when in possession of the puck, particularly on the power play. Pronger has a way of slowing things down to the speed of his choosing, giving himself time to survey the ice and plot an attack.

What the Ducks probably won't admit, but indirectly alluded to following Sunday's announcement, is that they'll miss the fear factor he brings to the game.

This is Pronger's seventh career suspension. By NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell's standards, the 6-foot-6 rearguard isn't just a repeat offender, he's a career criminal. Pronger also sat one game in the Western Conference finals for an elbow to the head of Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom. His rap sheet includes kicks, high sticks and slashes.

The Ducks on Sunday accepted the suspension without agreeing with it. They wished McAmmond well without apologizing for Pronger's actions. In other words: Anaheim doesn't plan on playing any other way.

"No, I'm not unhappy with Chris Pronger," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "I think he's played extremely well.

"I think a lot of times you look upon it, the positives that Chris Pronger brings to the table far outweigh any of the negatives."

In baseball terms, Anaheim wants to own the inside of the plate. And in that respect, Pronger is the Ducks' Bob Gibson. He's coming high and tight. Dig in if you like, but do so at your own risk. If the league wants to take action every now and then, so be it.

That Pronger can miss two of the most critical games in franchise history and have those absences simply be part of the "bad" that is dwarfed by his on-ice contributions speaks volumes about what Anaheim thinks about the physical stamp the defenseman puts on each and every game.

The Ducks embrace their on-the-edge style even as publicly they might occasionally decry their lack of discipline.

Skilled right wing Teemu Selanne set a career high with 82 penalty minutes this season, nearly doubling his previous high output. Scott Niedermayer, the other half of Anaheim's Hall of Fame defense tandem, has averaged 91 penalty minutes in two seasons in California. In 12 full seasons with New Jersey, he never topped 64.

West Coast teams might get worn down by travel. Anaheim is built to make sure its opponents feel a little something after a meeting, too.

"We play a certain style," General Manager Brian Burke said. "It's been successful for us.

"We're not a dirty team. We're a physical team. There's a big difference."

The we're-gonna-throw-our-weight-around, call-what-you-like approach has gotten the Ducks this far. The most penalized team in the regular season was also one of seven to allow fewer than 200 goals.

No other team can approach Anaheim's 353 penalty minutes in the postseason and yet here the Ducks are, just two wins from hockey's ultimate prize.

Will Pronger tone things down when he returns for Game 5 Wednesday in Anaheim? Don't count on it.

"I don't think I can for me to be the type of player I can be," Pronger said. "Obviously it's a fine line and it's getting finer and finer every year.

"And I think we have to make subtle adjustments, but I don't think I can make wholesale changes and still be the type of player I can be."

Carlyle called the incident a "hockey play," and both he and Burke invoked the Zdeno Chara-clause, reminding anyone who would listen that when a player who is 6-foot-6 crosses paths with a 5-foot-10 opponent, well, you just can't help but make elbow-to-head contact every now and then.

Ottawa, obviously, saw the play differently.

"It's no doubt that (Pronger) did this on purpose," Senators GM John Muckler said.

McAmmond agreed: "It wasn't incidental. It's not like that couldn't have been avoided."

It certainly appeared to be avoidable. Anyone with access to a television monitor and an ounce of common sense knew this suspension was coming, even as McAmmond was still regaining his senses from the blow he absorbed just moments after crossing into the Anaheim zone in the opening minutes of the third period.

McAmmond had snapped a shot at the Anaheim net and was tracking a rebound. He was skating around Pronger, not charging him. Whether it was a dirty play or an ill-executed attempt at a recovery is up for debate, but there's no doubt Pronger initiated the contact.

So Pronger will sit and McAmmond will recover and the NHL's general managers will no doubt devote much of Monday's GM meetings to the issue of blows to the head.

And this series will go on, likely with a little more edge. Ottawa now has anger to add to its angst.

Anaheim has a bone to pick of its own. Burke was furious that a Chris Neil elbow to the head of Ducks forward Andy McDonald went unpunished.

"The most dangerous play in the game last night was not Chris Pronger's hit on Dean McAmmond," Burke said. "It was Neil's hit on Andy McDonald."

So the Ducks have their cause to take up, too.

Not that this Anaheim team is ever lacking for an excuse to play physical.

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