ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The biggest obstacle Zac Rinaldo faces Thursday night against the Ducks is … himself.
The fiery-tempered winger has been rehabbing a high left-ankle sprain for 10 games. He makes his lineup return tonight with Michael Raffl and Adam Hall.
“He’s got to watch his hitting with that power he has with his skating ability,” coach Craig Berube said. “He tends to get there so quickly and someone turns a little bit, it’s a penalty, and you know that.
“He has to be careful that way and control his hitting. He’ll be fine. It’ll be nice having him back in there with the energy and skating and physical play.”
Rinaldo admitted he’s already a bundle of nerves playing against the top team in the NHL. The Ducks have 83 points. This is the first of three Pacific Division foes for the Flyers on this six-day trip.
“It’s been too long -– three weeks is too long for me,” said Rinaldo, who had a six-week prognosis but healed sooner. “I [was] going to do everything I can to do more to get back as soon as I can, and I did.
“I’m a little nervous being out of the lineup 10 games. Maybe that is good, I don’t know. I bring a little more energy when I’m nervous.”
He said he won’t “run around like a nervous wreck hitting everyone.” That’s what scares Berube. The Flyers have been taking so many penalties of late and can’t do it in this game if they want to have any chance to win.
“I’ll take my nerves out on the puck,” he said.
Berube tried Raffl at center today on that line and may have him take draws if Hall doesn’t. This line has played together only three times this season.
“It’s a good skating line with those two guys and Hallsy out there,” Berube said. “They can go against anybody. I had [Raffl] at center today and I’m looking at it. Working on his draws. He’s played center before.”