SUNRISE, Fla. _ Flyers winger Zac Rinaldo received a four-game suspension from the NHL on Monday and will miss the rest of the regular season.
Rinaldo was suspended for an illegal check to the head of Buffalo rookie defenseman Chad Ruhwedel during the third period of the Flyers’ 5-2 victory Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center.
“While we view the four-game suspension to Zac as harsh, we respect the league’s decision,” general manger Paul Holmgren said.
With Rinaldo out of the lineup, coach Craig Berube will re-insert Steve Downie or Tye McGinn in Florida on Tuesday. Downie has missed the last eight games with a head injury but appears ready to play.
Berube said there was a “good chance” Downie returns to the lineup Tuesday.
Ironically, Rinaldo had been showing more discipline lately and had been promoted to the third line. He has become adept at drawing penalties on opponents.
“It’s just unfortunate that it has to be for the remainder of the regular season. I was in a good groove, I was feeling good,” said Rinaldo, who scored his second goal of the season and had four penalties in Sunday’s easy victory.
As for the illegal check, Rinaldo said it was “just one of those hits that kind of slipped away from me. It was bad timing and a little vulnerability on his side of the puck, too. My bad and his bad at the same time.”
Rinaldo will forfeit his salary for the four suspended games: $15,384. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
Clincher? Heading into Monday, there was a chance the Flyers could clinch a playoff berth with a win Tuesday. For that to happen, New Jersey needed to pick up one point or fewer in Monday’s game against Calgary.
If New Jersey defeated Calgary, the earliest the Flyers could clinch a playoff spot would be Thursday in Tampa Bay.
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.