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Zac Rinaldo is an effective player when he doesn't let his emotions get the best of him
Wednesday, 12.11.2013 / 6:02 PM ET
By Anthony SanFilippo - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter / Flyers Inside Out
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CHICAGO – It was a long flight from Dallas to Ottawa, which gave Zac Rinaldo a lot of time to think.

He was coming off a game in Detroit where he didn’t get a lot of ice time followed by a four second cameo in Dallas that was enough to leave his team shorthanded for seven minutes as he was being ejected from the game.

His actions in Dallas – jumping Stars pesky pest Antoine Roussel as both came off the bench for their first shift of the game – was not the smartest of choices by Rinaldo.

As a matter of fact, his coach, Craig Berube, was quite blunt when describing the decision to land a couple of blows to Roussel’s head while he laying on the ice.

“Stupid,” Berube said.

And it was, whether intentional or not, it left the Flyers short a forward the entire game and put them behind the eight ball as far as taxing players who play a lot of penalty kill so early in the game.

With Tye McGinn getting a recall from the Adirondack Phantoms, there was a real chance that Rinaldo would come out of the lineup to get a message that those kinds of actions would be unacceptable.

But a crazy travel day for McGinn that got him to Ottawa late at night left Berube a bit leery about throwing McGinn back in without much rest, so he stuck with the lineup he had in Dallas.

Rest assured, Rinaldo probably wasn’t going to lot of ice time, right?

Well, he ended up with 10-plus minutes and played a very smart, fast game.

Go figure.

“I wanted that game for myself and I wanted to show the team that my intentions were never to put the team shorthanded for seven minutes,” Rinaldo said. “That was the last thing I wanted to do to the team. I got a chance in Ottawa and I did it. I did it for myself and at the same time I said I was sorry to the team by playing smarter and playing the right way.”

And to his credit, he did play the right way. His game was noticeable against the Senators as he led the team in hits, skated fast and hard, got some time on the penalty kill, and played clean – without taking a penalty.

Now, the next step, as far as Berube is concerned, is taking that performance and playing that way as consistently as possible.

“I thought he played a good game, skated hard and was smart out there,” Berube said. “He did a good job. He can be a real effective player when he’s skating like that and playing a clean game. He can be physical and deliver hits, we just don’t want any of the stupid stuff. That’s important. We need him on the ice because that’s where he’s most effective.”

And that’s where Rinaldo’s effectiveness is measured. Not in anything that can be really digested statistically, but in the way he plays when he plays.

He skates along a very thin line. When he stays on the one side, he’s a positive addition to the lineup that provides energy, forces turnovers and uses speed to wreak controlled havoc.

When he loses focus and slips up on the other side of the line, he can be more of a detriment to the team, if he’s costing them minutes while he’s in the penalty box.

“I want to use Zac,” Berube said. “I don’t always use him on the penalty kill but there’s games where I feel I like the way he’s moving out there and I’ll use him. It wasn’t [preconceived] to have him play as much as he did in Ottawa, but I’d like to see him get 10 minutes or more in a game, because it usually means he’s playing the right way.”

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NOTES: Tye McGinn is sick and didn’t skate at the morning practice, so he won’t be in the lineup tonight. Hal Gill and Erik Gustafsson will be healthy scratches… The Flyers will look to get the first goal tonight because the Blackhawks are a team that is very difficult to come back on. Chicago is 17-0-3 when they score first, are a perfect 12-0-0 when leading after one period and 15-0-1 when leading after two periods. The Blackhawks have also registered at least one point this season in every game played against an Eastern Conference foe (8-0-2).

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 78 22 45 -8 67
W. Simmonds 81 32 28 -7 60
B. Schenn 80 26 33 3 59
J. Voracek 73 11 44 -5 55
S. Gostisbehere 64 17 29 8 46
S. Couturier 63 11 28 8 39
M. Raffl 82 13 18 9 31
M. Read 79 11 15 -5 26
M. Streit 62 6 17 -1 23
S. Laughton 71 7 14 -2 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 23 19 10 .918 2.51
M. Neuvirth 18 8 4 .924 2.27
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