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Let's get physical

by Adam Kimelman
The rivalry between the Bruins and Flyers historically has been nasty and physical, with big hits going both ways. The first fight in a Winter Classic came when the Flyers' Daniel Carcillo and the Bruins' Shawn Thornton dropped the gloves at the 2010 game.

"This is probably going to be a physical series," said coach Peter Laviolette. "They are a hitting team. We can play that game as well."

To that end, the Flyers could dress one of two physical players to fill out their fourth line for Game 1 Saturday -- veteran Jody Shelley or rookie Zac Rinaldo.

The 35-year-old Shelley hasn't played since suffering a broken orbital bone during a March 21. GM Paul Holmgren has said Shelley is healthy and cleared to play, but Laviolette has yet to use him.

Shelley is wearing a visor to protect his face, and told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Friday that he will be "ready to do what I have to do pretty soon."

In 10 NHL seasons, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Shelley has played 596 games and is eighth among active players with 1,474 penalty minutes. He's skated in just seven Stanley Cup Playoff games.

"(Shelley) is just a big, physical guy," linemate Blair Betts told "I think that's it. I think maybe there's an intimidation factor with him in the lineup. I think he's underrated as a player. He's great on the forecheck, he uses his body well and his size to protect the puck and create room for the rest of us, and that's what expect out of him."

Rinaldo, who spent the regular season with the Adirondack Phantoms of the American Hockey League, made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut in Game 5 of the first round, playing three shifts totaling 1:56, but he had three hits. However, his ice time was more the result of the score, as the Flyers fell behind 3-0 in the first period.

"We fell behind early in that game and the game plan kind of went out the window," said Laviolette. "We had to get our guys that score goals out there as much as we could.  I thought he was good.  He had a couple good shifts. He only had a minute and 20 or a minute and 30 in ice time, but he had three hits -- three hard hits."

Rinaldo was second on the AHL with 331 penalty minutes, and had more suspensions (four) than goals (three). However, the 5-11, 169-pounder believes those numbers don't properly describe what kind of player he wants to be.

"I'm misunderstood, for sure," he told the (Camden) Courier-Post. "I hit and I hit hard, and some guys don't like it. When they don't like it, they want to come after me and fight and I don't back down. I don't go looking for the fights, but since I hit so hard and hit so big, guys want to fight me and that's what racks up the penalties."

Which one plays? True to form, Laviolette wasn't saying. Shelley and Rinaldo split time on the fourth line with Betts and Darroll Powe in practice, so there was no clue there. And with Saturday's 3 p.m. ET start (NBC, CBC, RDS), there was no pre-game skate to evaluate.

There were reports that Rinaldo's equipment was shipped from the Flyers' practice site in Voorhees, N.J. to the Wells Fargo Center, and since he only has one set, that could be the cue that he's playing. But the morning of Game 5, Ben Holmstrom skated with the fourth line during practice, only to see Rinaldo play, so everything's up for debate until game time.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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