If you are not aware that Zac Rinaldo is back in the Flyers’ lineup then clearly your bedtime is 10 o’clock and you were to busy watching Super Bowl coverage Saturday afternoon. The first game of their 3 game California road trip was against the league leading, despite not being mighty, Ducks of Anaheim. This was when Zac Rinaldo returned to the lineup with a boom delivering a sizable hit to Anaheim Ducks Forward Matt Beleskey. That hit – which got under Beleskey’s skin to say the least – caused Beleskey to go after Rinaldo and take a bad penalty putting the Flyers on the Power Play early on in the 1st period. Zac really got under the Ducks skin during his first game back last Thursday, unfortunately the end result was a 5-2 loss for the Flyers.
Flash forward to Saturday in Los Angeles and Rinaldo makes his presence felt yet again, this time delivering a monstrous hit – the biggest I have seen recently – on Kings enforcer Kyle Clifford. (You can watch the hit here) Clifford got caught with his head down and knew it, that is why he did not bother going after Rinaldo. Either that, or as JJ and Coatesy pointed out, they played junior hockey together for the Barrie Colts of the OHL. Honestly, I would have liked a fight – but I will be watching that hit at least once a week for awhile. The Flyers came out victors in that game, due in part to Rinaldo’s physical play and just being really annoying, 2-0.
Then late Monday night the Flyers finished off their tour of The Golden State in San Jose. The Sharks – another one of the leagues top teams – put up a physical battle against the Flyers. However, unlike the couple of games the Flyers did not have Rinaldo – they answered back. It was quite the physical affair between two gladiator teams. Zac came out of the battle with a +1 rating on the Austrian Army Knife Michael Raffl’s goal.
I know my past couple posts have been on Rinaldo and how Downie had to step up in Rinaldo’s absence yada yada yada – I apologize for that. I will get some variety with my next post. But I felt that now was a good time to point out the presence Rinaldo has in the line up and the spark he supplies for the team. Before Zac came back they were playing with no energy at all and were loosing some games that they should have been able to win, or at least compete in. (Second half of home and home with the Islanders, Hurricanes, and Blue Jackets games.) Yes, they routed Detroit 5-0 before they left for California, but that is not the Detroit team of years past. Anaheim, Los Angeles, and San Jose are top of the league teams – Anaheim and San Jose being even better than Boston! Credit that to the schedule or what you will, they are still top quality teams. They managed to hang with the best team in hockey for most of the game, beat the Kings, and then beat the Sharks. The Flyers with Rinaldo in the lineup are a very dangerous team and I believe they can beat anyone in the league with the lineup we have right now. Zac Rinaldo is the Keystone to this team, the Glue Guy if you will. Some say Giroux – but that is obvious. I say if Zac is playing and is on his game, the team tends to follow his physical play.
All stats courtesy of hockey-reference.com