WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Peter Laviolette talked about it.
More than once.
Zac Rinaldo as a penalty killer.
Laviolette wasn’t here long enough this season to see it happen, but under Craig Berube it’s happened four times, including Friday night's 3-2 shootout loss to the Jets at MTS Centre (see story).
“We’re working him hard in practice,” Berube said. “We needed him there in that situation in a tight game. We had him there against Pittsburgh and we’d like to get him more time there. We’re working with him. It’s a good role for him.”
Rinaldo actually had 1:09 of PK time during the Flyers' 2-1 win over the Penguins on Wednesday. His season high was 1:12 against Washington. Then again, the Flyers had a short roster that night during their 7-0 loss to the Caps and needed bodies.
Friday against the Jets, he logged 1:24 PK time in the first period alone, even starting the game on the first kill of the evening. He finished the game with 1:34 penalty kill time.
Not bad considering he played all of 50 seconds the entire lockout-shortened season. Officially, the NHL had Rinaldo averaging :01 a game.
This season? He’s played 2:43 -- or :09 a game. Up a little.
“I’m excited about it,” Rinaldo said. “The more responsibility, the better for me.”
What does Rinaldo bring besides hitting?
“Well, speed, he can skate,” Berube replied. “No fear to block shots. That’s the main ingredient. Just some reads. I think over time, he’ll get the right reads. He understands the system.”
Rinaldo says he will not approach the PK any different than if he were taking a regular fourth-line shift at even strength.
“I’m more useful if I don’t have a different mindset,” he said. “Just skate hard and play on the PK like it’s my last shift.”