PHILADELPHIA – It’s almost like Craig Berube is a sage.
He said he wants Zac Rinaldo to shoot more and get to the net and generate more scoring chances.
It seems like a crazy notion. After all, that’s not what Rinaldo’s role is on the Flyers. But, O.K., we’ll go with it.
A few days later Rinaldo ends up leading the Flyers in shots and scores his first goal of the season, snapping a 53-game skid en route to a 3-1 win over Montreal.
Not only that, he was an assist away from a Gordie Howe Hat Trick, as he dropped the gloves with Brandon Prust, and then gestured to the crowd to get it fired up even more than it has been on this pleasant 10-game home winning streak.
But the fight is one thing. It’s expected. The goal and leading the team in shots… that’s something else entirely.
“I wanted to be a lot more patient with the puck and wanted to create more opportunities … do everything I can to get pucks to the net and score,” Rinaldo said. “That’s what I wanted to do, and it went in for me tonight.”
Rinaldo scored what would be the game-winning goal by carrying the puck into the offensive zone, shooting (even though it went wide) and following his shot trying to put in a rebound.
“I was praying to God that puck came back to me,” he said. “And it came back to me and I threw it on net and it went in for me.”
Did it hit a Canadien defenseman’s stick as it went in?
“Yeah it did,” he said. “It was a good bounce for me. I’m not going to complain about it.”
And there’s not a lot to complain about Rinaldo’s game at the moment.
Since taking a stupid penalty that cost him a game because of a misconduct in Dallas last month, Rinaldo has been a model citizen, a ball of positive energy – and now a goal scorer.
“He’s played good hockey,” coach Craig Berube said. We’re using him killing penalties at times. His physical skating I think really rubs off on our team. He can really skate, he’s been physical and not taking penalties, which is important.”
NOTES: Andrej Meszaros had three assists in a game for the first time since March, 2006 – his rookie season – when he was a member of the Ottawa Senators. He has had at least three points in a game four times now in his career, the last coming in March of 2012. Meszaros has played much better since returning to the lineup to replace an injured Erik Gustafsson. “He’s come in and played really well since Gus went down,” Berube said. “He had a real good game tonight but overall he’s improving all the time. He’s a good offensive defenseman. He’s a good all-around defenseman that can do a lot of different things. He can skate, he can shoot the puck, and he can defend, so he’s a valuable guy.” … Meszaros thought he had an assist taken away from him on the first goal but misunderstood public address announcer Lou Nolan changing the other assist from Steve Downie to Vincent Lecavalier on the first goal of the game scored by Sean Couturier. After the game Meszaros joked with Nolan, blaming him for trying to cost him a point… Luke Schenn quietly had a strong game with an assist, seven hits and three blocked shots… The Flyers have outscored their opponents 39-17 during the 10-game winning streak… General manager Paul Holmgren said forward Matt Read has been dealing with concussion-like symptoms and will miss at least the next two games.
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