Rinaldo suspended; special teams fail Flyers

Zac Rinaldo, the Flyers' feisty 21-year-old winger, was suspended for two games by the NHL on Monday for an incident in Sunday's 4-3 loss in Detroit.

Rinaldo was assessed a charging minor for hitting Detroit defenseman Jonathan Ericsson at the 13:32 mark of the opening period. The NHL said Rinaldo "launched himself" at the defender.

In 43 games, Rinaldo has seven points and 156 penalty minutes. He will forfeit $5,885 in salary while he is suspended.

The Flyers don't play again until Thursday against visiting Buffalo. Rinaldo will also miss Saturday's game against visiting Pittsburgh.

On Twitter, former Flyers defenseman Chris Therien, now a broadcaster for the team, criticized the NHL's decision. Tweeted Therien: "Rinaldo suspended 2 games by league! Eventually there will be no hitting at all. 15 yrs ago that was hardly a 2 min minor. What a joke"

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The Flyers’ special teams haven’t been so special lately.

As a result, the Flyers have fallen eight points behind the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference. In fact, they are closer to eight place (seven points) than they are first.

They dropped a 4-3 decision to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday night as the hosts equaled an NHL record with their 20th straight home win.

The 1975-76 Flyers and 1929-30 Boston Bruins also won 20 consecutive home games.

Johan Franzen  scored the game-winner 52 seconds into the third period, snapping a 3-3 tie by converting a slick feed from defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom.

Detroit will have the home record to itself if it beats Dallas on Tuesday.

“I think it's more of a thing where we don't want to talk about it,” Lidstrom said. “We just want to keep it going.”

The Flyers played much better than they did in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Rangers, but, once again, the special teams were the difference.

Detroit was 2 for 5 on the power play, while the Flyers were 0 for 2.

On Saturday, the Flyers failed on all four power-play chances, while New York was 3 for 8.

Sergei Bobrovsky allowed a weak goal to tie the score at 3-3 with 1:39 left in the second period and it changed the game’s momentum.

If the Flyers are going to get out of their funk _ they have lost five of their last six _ they need better goaltending, improvement on special teams, and more physicality on defense.

The loss dropped the Flyers into a virtual tie for fourth place with the Penguins in the Eastern Conference.

Breakaways: Danny Briere, who set up the first of Brayden Schenn’s two goals, is goal-less in 11 straight games, his longest skid in 10 years…..Jaromir Jagr has one goal in his last 16 games…..Schenn and Wayne Simmonds were each plus-2……The Flyers’ penalty kill is tied for 17th in the league with an 81.4 percent success rate....The Flyers did not practice Monday.

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Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.