Last night’s Philadelphia Flyer win against the Florida Panthers clinched a playoff berth, but that was not the only significant event taking place.
Flyer winger Zac Rinaldo was serving the first game of his four-game suspension for an illegal hit on Buffalo Sabre defenseman Chad Ruhwedel.
Here is the hit:
At the time, the Flyers were up 4-0 on Buffalo, and hits like this were obviously unnecessary.
Rinaldo admitted that the hit wasn’t needed, but it doesn’t absolve him of guilt.
This isn’t the first time he has been reprimanded by the league for something. The 23-year-old has been suspended once before and fined twice in only 165 games played in his young career.
The league viewed the nature of the hit, stating he launched into the Ruhwedel’s head, and Rinaldo’s prior history. The fact that Ruhwedel suffered a concussion didn’t help either.
Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren believed that the four-game suspension was a bit harsh, but respects the league’s decision.
Rinaldo is becoming one of the leagues more recognizable “goons.” He currently leads the Flyers in penalty minutes with 153, which ranks fourth in the NHL.
He also ranks second on the team in hits, behind defenseman Luke Schenn, with 231. That number is top ten in the NHL among forwards. However, all forwards ranked above him average at least four or more minutes of ice time a game compared to Rinaldo’s 7:41 of average ice time.
So given that stat, it is likely Rinaldo would lead the NHL in hits if he received more ice time, but of course that is speculative.
Philadelphia’s fans have seen Rinaldo become much more than a wrecking ball, though he still retains that ability.
He has been more disruptive than ever for opposing offenses.
He is praised by head coach Craig Berube and assistant coach Ian Laperriere for his work ethic, and earned a promotion to the third line in the game against the Sabres.
Rinaldo doesn’t allow liberties to be taken on his teammates, and despite his smaller stature (5’11’’, 169 lbs.), he doesn’t back down from challenges. He shows a classic case of the Napoleon complex.
Rinaldo will be available to play in the Flyers’ first playoff game next week, but must sit out the remainder of the season.
He makes Philadelphia a much stronger and tougher team, but there is no question he hurts them sometimes. Dumb penalties can be a result of his aggressive play.
With the return of Steve Downie to the Flyers’ lineup, Berube could choose to make Rinaldo a healthy scratch in round one.
Rinaldo has become a fan favorite, and is developing a cult following who affectionately call themselves 3-6 Nation, so he will likely be placed back into the lineup as soon as he is available.
Berube will then have to choose who gets benched, and the top candidates will be Tye McGinn or Jay Rosehill.
HartnellDown Tracker: Scott currently sits at 254 HartnellDowns on the season.