The Philadelphia Flyers played well on Sunday night. From top to bottom they had scoring chances with every Flyer except Sean Couturier registering at least one shot on goal. Even Zac Rinaldo got into the scoring action registering his second goal of the year and his first since January.
Unfortunately it is Rinaldo’s actions later in the game that has everyone talking.
With the Flyers holding a commanding 4-0 lead early in the third period, the Sabres went to work trying to get on the board. As the puck made its way around, Sabres defense Chad Ruhwedel dumped the puck into the corner from the point as Rinaldo came charging across the ice.
The 23-year-old Rinaldo made contact with Ruhwedel’s head on a violent shoulder check. What compounded the hit was how Rinaldo approached Ruhwedel. Just prior to contact, Rinaldo left his feet in a launching motion which certainly increased the intensity of the blow.
Play continued as Ruhwedel struggled to get to his feet on the ice, falling numerous times. As he slowly made his way to the bench the referees blew the play dead. Rinaldo was issued a five-minute major for contact to the head which brings with it a match penalty.
The Sabres would score once on the ensuing power play
As is the case with all match penalties, Rinaldo has a hearing on Monday with Brendan Shanahan of the Department of Player Safety. Many factors are considered when discussing a possible suspension such as whether or not the player is a repeat offender and whether or not the victim of the hit was injured.
Sabres head coach Ted Nolan announced after the game Ruhwedel had a concussion but also added, “It’s just a dirty hit and we don’t need it in our game.” So, in short, yes Ruhwedel was injured.
Now, Rinaldo has been suspended once in his career for charging Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson in 2012. The NHL Department of Player Safety determines a player to be a repeat offender if he has an incident within the last 18 months. So, based on the guidelines, Rinaldo is not a repeat offender.
Rinaldo owned up to the hit when talking with reporters following the game. “I shouldn’t have done it,” Rinaldo said simply. “There was no need for it.”
We will find out how long the Flyers are without Rinaldo today but it is looking like anywhere from 3-5 games based on previous hits around the league.