PITTSBURGH — All season long, Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo kept a close tab on the NHL’s penalty minute leaders - checking daily to see if his name was near the top of the list.
For some, it is a meaningless stat, something that would be more of a source of shame than anything else.
For Rinaldo, the penalty minutes were a source of pride - proof of blood and brawn - as long as they didn’t hurt the team and make his Flyers shorthanded.
The battle for the NHL’s annual penalty minutes king came down to the final day of the regular season. And for a while, things looked good for Rinaldo. He held a 9-minute lead heading into the night-time starts on day No. 185 of the season.
Skating in another preseason-type matchup, between the league’s 27th and 30th ranked teams, Columbus Blue Jackets forward Derek Dorsett was not to be outdone.
Dorsett closed the season with 12 PIM in his final game, edging out Rinaldo by just three minutes for the title:
1. Derek Dorsett (CBJ) - 77 GP, 40 minors, 19 majors, 6 misconducts, 0 game misconducts - 235 PIM
2. Zac Rinaldo (PHI) - 66 GP, 30 minors, 16 majors, 8 misconducts, 1 game misconduct - 232 PIM
3. Zenon Konopka (NYI) - 55 GP, 19 minors, 19 majors, 5 misconducts, 1 game misconduct - 193 PIM
Rinaldo would have been the first Flyer to lead the league in PIM while spending a full season with the team since Ben Eager did it in 2006-07 with 233.
Nonetheless, Rinaldo made a hell of an impact in the NHL in his full season. The scrappy, 5-foot-11 forward who is 185 pounds soaking wet, finished tied for 7th with 15 fights.
Rinaldo led the NHL in penalties per 60 minutes, penalties drawn per 60 minutes, and hits per 60 minutes.
He is unlikely to be suspended for his “checking from behind” call in the first period against Pittsburgh, for which he was dealt a 5-minute major (the only possible outcome for that call) and a game misconduct. Usually, he would have been handed a “boarding” penalty but the referees clearly wanted to control the season finale between the Flyers and Penguins. Rinaldo’s hit quickly followed Harry Zolnierczyk’s fight with Joe Vitale.
“Those decisions are out of my hands,” coach Peter Laviolette said of a suspension. “It’s not my call, but I don’t think the hit was that bad. Hopefully Zac’s going to be OK. He’s an important part of our team, I hope he’s available for me on Wednesday.”
Zero: Number of players in the Top 25 in average ice time per game for the Flyers.
6th - Flyers’ final ranking on the power play, with a 19.7 percent conversion rate for the season. They closed the year on an 8-for-37 clip (21.6 percent) over the final 8 games.
17th - Final ranking on the penalty kill, with an 81.8 percent kill rate. They closed the year on a 57-for-66 run (86.3 percent) over the last 21 games.
16 - Power play goals for Scott Hartnell, second only to Pittsburgh’s James Neal, who finished with 18.
.435 - Flyers’ points percentage when trailing first. Only Pittsburgh, at .457, was better when the opposition scored first.
4 - Number of times in the last 55 games the Flyers held a lead after the first 10 minutes of a hockey game.
Plus-19: Scott Hartnell’s team-best plus/minus ratio, which matches his number.
53.7: Claude Giroux’s team-best faceoff win percentage on a staggering 1,543 draws. Giroux took exactly 34 percent of the Flyers’ faceoffs.
15: Fights for Zac Rinaldo, tied for the 7th most in the NHL.
24: Matt Read's league-leading goal total for rookies, 2 more than supposed Calder Trophy-frontrunner Gabriel Landeskog.
188: Hits for Scott Hartnell, a team-high.
1: Flyers’ rank in goals-by-period for the second period, out-scoring the opposition on a 98-71 clip in the middle frame. They scored the 4th most in the first period (72) but also gave up the second most (78) in the first. Outscored opposition, 84-74, in the third.
4-7: Flyers’ record in the shootout, 22nd in the NHL. Thankfully, the shootout doesn’t exist in the postseason.
164: Blocked shots by Matt Carle, a team-high.
55: Giveaways by Matt Carle, a team-high. He had 11 more than Giroux and 12 more than fellow defenseman Braydon Coburn.
.641: Flyers’ winning percentage in one-goal games, 3rd in the NHL.
48: Takeaways by rookie Sean Couturier, second only to Claude Giroux’s 50.
264: Goals for the Flyers this season (3.21 GPG), 5 more than they scored last season.
64: Goals by the Flyers' rookies this season (0.78 GPG), tops in the NHL.
15.9: Career-high shooting percentage for Scott Hartnell, a full 4.6 percentage points above his career average of 11.3. Hartnell posted 37 goals, also a career-high.
1: Claude Giroux’s rank league-wide in power play points with 38.
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