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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 WSH 52 39 9 4 171 117 82
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 NYI 52 28 18 6 145 129 62
5 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 BOS 53 28 19 6 153 146 62
8 PIT 52 27 18 7 138 132 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 52 23 20 9 122 137 55
14 BUF 54 21 27 6 124 146 48
15 CBJ 55 21 28 6 137 170 48
16 TOR 52 19 24 9 120 144 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 52 16 29 -8 45
J. Voracek 52 8 34 -3 42
W. Simmonds 52 19 16 -7 35
B. Schenn 50 14 15 -2 29
S. Gostisbehere 34 9 19 3 28
S. Couturier 40 9 15 9 24
M. Read 51 9 9 -5 18
S. Laughton 52 4 10 -7 14
M. Del Zotto 50 4 9 -10 13
M. Raffl 52 6 6 2 12
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 12 14 7 .915 2.70
M. Neuvirth 11 6 2 .933 2.14
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