Philly Phaithful
Better With Popcorn

Schenn, Simmonds welcome a new presence

Before the season started, people doubted whether or not Zac Rinaldo would make the 23-man roster.

Now, Rinaldo has earned his way onto the third line. 

Though it may be temporary, Rinaldo made a huge impact in Thursday’s 4-1 win over the Predators playing on the third line and it may have been the game that gives the 21-year-old a true crack at more ice time.

Before Thursday’s game, Rinaldo was averaging a little over six minutes of ice time, was a minus-7 and had only four points. But in that game, Rinaldo eclipsed the 10-minute mark for only the third time all season in his 36 games, skating a season hight 11:11.

But without his line mates, Rinaldo wouldn’t be able to prove anything. In fact, it’s the camaraderie of Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn that has been brewing for almost a month that has made this line so successful.

Simmonds took a team high 10 shots in the 4-1 win. Two of those shots found twine, and both came from the result of Simmonds’ style of play.

Schenn finished a plus-2 as a result of Simmonds’ good game, assisting on his first goal in the first period.

But what made this line combine for two of the Flyers’ four goals? As some of the purists put it, it was the combination of the scorer, sniper and banger.

Though Simmonds is typically a banger, for one night he became the sniper. The Flyers, who talked up Schenn to be the next Mike Richards, view their 20-year-old diamond to be the next great playmaker on the Flyers. And Rinaldo’s presence was obvious.

In fact, Rinaldo’s presence was made known due to playing with the two most talented players he’s been paired up with all season, especially Schenn. Schenn is supposed to make guys around him better and he did just that.

But the type of production the three made on Thursday won’t continue. The Flyers can’t expect Simmonds to turn into Claude Giroux when playing with Schenn and Rinaldo. It just won’t work that way.

So where does this leave the trio once Danny Briere and James van Riemsdyk return from their concussions?

For starters, it spells doom for Rinaldo, thus ending the experiment on the third line. Rinaldo will be stuffed back down on the fourth line once again, playing on a line with Harry Zolnierczyk and a center slapped in between them.

“They're not necessarily experiments,” head coach Peter Laviolette said after Thursday’s game. “We're whacked with injuries constantly here. Its hard to navigate and as guys come back, changes in the line-up have to be made. That's part of the game and if it were up to me I'd rather just go with the status quo with the line-up and push forward with what needs to be changed. We had to change the lines tonight because Zac came back in the line-up and (Ben) Holmstrom went down. Line changes will happen when others come back or others go out again.”

But what does this mean for both Schenn and Simmonds? Surely the Flyers can’t throw either of them back down on the fourth but they can’t fit both Briere and van Riemsdyk back up in the top three lines without moving one of them.

The best option would be to move Max Talbot back down to the fourth line. Talbot’s presence is best made on the penalty kill as well as playing the hard minutes to rest the top two lines.

This allows Briere to re-take his place on the top two lines and allows Schenn to center a line with van Riemsdyk and Simmonds.

It will be that third line that will truly define the old phrase, “one hand washes the other.” 

Restless Flyers fans are still waiting for the player van Riemsdyk was in the playoffs last season to reappear. They are also waiting for Schenn to develop his skills as a playmaker.

Sniper, playmaker, banger.