Penguins notebook: Flyers Rinaldo escapes suspension after incident


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Zac Rinaldo skated on a something of a makeshift line at Flyers practice Thursday, but whether the rugged winger dresses for Game 5 against the Penguins tonight at Consol Energy Center will be strictly the coaches' decision.

Rinaldo received 24 minutes in penalties in the third period of Philadelphia's 10-3 loss Wednesday in Game 4 of the first-round playoff series after a third-period incident in which he cross-checked Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek, elbowed him in the head and punched him.

Rinaldo did not have a hearing with NHL executive Brendan Shanahan that might have led to a suspension.

"I didn't hear [anything]," he said after practice. "I don't expect to get any suspensions or anything. It is what it is."

Rinaldo, who led all players in the postseason with 46 penalty minutes going into Thursday, offered an explanation for his actions.

"Frustrations," he said. "Built-up frustrations with a 9-3 deficit. Just frustrations came out of me. It happens in hockey. I'll roll with the punches. Whatever happens, happens."

He said Michalek did not provoke him.

"Not even that," Rinaldo said. "Just personal frustrations. He didn't do anything. No. Nothing."

That said, Rinaldo had no regrets.

"I don't think so, no," he said. "I don't think I put my team down. It was already 9-3. I don't regret doing it. It's my emotions. I wear my heart on my sleeve.

"I was really frustrated that we were getting blown out of the water, 9-3, so I took matters into my own hands."

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said, "That was just two guys battling."

Asham speaks up

Penguins winger Arron Asham, who received a four-game suspension for cross-checking Philadelphia's Brayden Schenn in Game 3, said Thursday his punishment was more severe than he anticipated.

"I was surprised by the number of games," Asham said. "I thought [Washington center Nicklas] Backstrom's was a lot worse.

"His was intended for the face, the head area. Mine was more of the chest. But it's a tough call. Shanahan has a tough job. Bite the bullet on this one and, hopefully, the team starts rolling here, and I can get back for the second round."

Asham, whose suspension is his first in the NHL, went at Schenn after Schenn had delivered a high hit on Penguins defenseman Paul Martin, who missed Game 4 with an unspecified injury and sat out an optional practice Thursday.

"Schenn left his feet and targeted my teammate's head," Asham said. "We know [Martin] is not playing. It's my job to go in there and make sure no one takes any liberties on the guys.

"My stick got a little high, and I'm paying the consequences for it now."

Asham said he was not aware that Schenn was going to be assessed a charging minor for the hit on Martin, and that he did not think that punching Schenn after he fell to the ice was a major factor in his suspension.

"It obviously didn't help," Asham said. "But I think it was more, distance traveled. I came from pretty much the other end of the ice."

Looking for edge at home

There is supposed to be an advantage to playing at home, and the Penguins have started to enjoy one at Consol Energy Center.

Against most teams, anyway.

Not so against Philadelphia.

The Flyers, who have a 3-1 lead in their opening-round playoff series with the Penguins going into Game 5, have won seven of the eight games they've played there.

Hasn't mattered that Penguins coach Dan Bylsma gets to make the last personnel change, or that the crowd is, for the most part, not particularly fond of the Flyers.

And while the Penguins' lone victory came in a relatively meaningless regular-season finale, right winger Tyler Kennedy said that established that they can beat the Flyers here.

"We still know we can beat them in our own building, which is good," he said.

And he insisted that the Flyers are not in the Penguins' heads because of the success they've had at Consol Energy Center.

"No," he said. "Not at all."

A lot to remember

Outside of this series, no team has scored more than four goals in a game this postseason.

The Penguins have scored 3, 5, 4 and 10 goals, a total of 22. The Flyers have scored 4, 8, 8 and 3 goals, a total of 23. The teams have combined for 16 power-play goals, and their overall total of 45 is an NHL playoff record through four games in a series.

Going into Thursday, eight of the top nine playoff scorers were in this series. The games in this series have averaged 11.25 goals. In the regular season, games that didn't go to a shootout averaged a little more than five goals.

Add in the scrums, fights, penalties and suspensions for flavoring, and it's been quite a four-game set.

"I think this series will be remembered for decades, for sure," Philadelphia goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov said.

Tip-ins

The 10 goals the Flyers allowed Wednesday night tied a franchise record, also set by the Penguins, who beat Philadelphia, 10-7, in Game 5 of the 1989 Patrick Division final. Mario Lemieux scored five goals, which remains a shared NHL record.

Furthermore, it was their most-lopsided playoff loss since an 8-0 defeat against Buffalo in Game 6 of the 2001 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, and 17 of the 18 Flyers had at least one hit in a total of 39. The exception was rookie Matt Read.

penguins

For more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com and Twitter @pgshelly.


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