Better With Popcorn

On a Team Looking for Consistent Energy, Zac Rinaldo Is Supplying It

 

 

It has been very apparent that the Flyers have struggled to get a consistent effort from any of their forwards this season. 

Top players like Danny Briere and Claude Giroux have struggled, young players like Tye McGinn have been taken in and out of the lineup, and enforcers like Tom Sestito have made lineup changes even more interesting. It’s tough to think of a player that has provided a consistent effort while performing his specific role. 

When you get down to it, Zac Rinaldo may very well be your guy.

Rinaldo has become the perfect fourth liner that every team needs these days. Max Talbot and Ruslan Fedotenko both have another role of killing penalties, McGinn is still young and learning, Sestito just may not have enough talent, and Harry Zolnierczyk has not found himself a permanent spot in Philadelphia. Rinaldo has discovered his role and is playing it perfectly.

Rinaldo is only averaging 7:30 of ice time each game. That’s a short amount of time to make an impact. But for a player with his history, it also used to be just enough time to screw things up. 

There is a very fine line between being a useful and harmful 4th line player. 

A lot of players have toughness but don’t have the ability to score a rare goal. Other players can do that but are too concerned with looking for physical play. 

It’s all about timing. Sometimes all Rinaldo has to do is throw his body around. Other times he needs to drop the gloves. And other times he just needs to focus on playing hockey like any other NHL forward on any line.

That’s why we call these guys energy players. They do what they have to do to give their team energy, and those ways vary depending on the score and what part of the game it is. 

If a player does that correctly, he can find his way into a city’s heart. Think of past Flyers Scottie Upshall and Darroll Powe. It really wasn’t so strange that they were loved so much when you think about it.

We have also seen this situation go terribly wrong with Steve Downie, Dan Carcillo, and the old Zac Rinado. But unlike the guys before him while wearing the orange and black, Rinaldo has found discipline and found comfort in his role.

He's had a couple fights, and he's been much disciplined with drawing penalties as a pest. He has newfound restraint. 

In addition to his fights and his discipline elsewhere, he has 52 hits in 13 games, which is an average of 4.33 hits per game despite averaging just 7:30 minutes per game. Compared to Luke Schenn’s league-leading 60 hits in 20:07, that’s a pretty impressive stat for the man fans call “Rino.” 

It is also important to note Rinaldo’s goal from today against the Islanders as well, which was just the third in his career.

Rinaldo may not get much ice time, and he may not kill penalties or score many goals, but he’s a ball of energy that fans are growing to love and the team is growing value. When you look at his contributions, he is doing quite a lot for a player averaging less than 10:00 of ice time.

For Rinaldo, it isn’t the quantity of minutes, but the quality of minutes he plays, and that makes him just one piece of the puzzle for the Flyers.