Zac Rinaldo #36 (L) of the Philadelphia Flyers scores at 8:41 of the first period against the New York Islanders and is joined by Sean Couturier #14 (R) at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on March 15, 2012 in Uniondale, New York.
(March 14, 2012 - Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Zac Rinaldo wants to expand his role

The lockout is forcing Rinaldo back to the AHL after spending 66 games with the Philadelphia Flyers last season. Some would be frustrated by the setback, but Rinaldo is trying to look at it as an “opportunity to become a better hockey player,” based on a report.

Rinaldo had nine points and 232 penalty minutes with the Flyers in 2011-12 while averaging just 7:29 of ice time per game, but he’ll get the opportunity to show what he can do with top-six minutes in the AHL.

Rinaldo said he’s always been an energy guy, but he wants to “focus on being a good, complete hockey player.”

One area he thinks he can help the AHL Phantoms — and then the Flyers after the lockout — in is killing penalties.

“I did a lot of penalty killing in the OHL,” Rinaldo said. “Not as much in the AHL and not really at al last year. But, I think I’ll be a good penalty killer because of a lot of assets that I have in my game. I like penalty killing. I like it better than the power play. Terry Murray is a great [penalty killing] teacher right? So I think he’ll be able to help me out a lot there.”

Rinaldo isn’t looking to change his game, but he wants to add to it. For young players like him, the lockout is an opportunity to take a step back and grow. It looks like he’ll try to take advantage of that.

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    So, how would you protect a lead against the Stars?

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    You know what they say: it’s easy to bash a strategy in hindsight.

    Slam that NFL head coach for going for it on fourth down … or settling for the field goal. Bury that MLB manager because he kept a pitcher in too long. And so on.

    “Score effects” settle in during almost any lopsided hockey game, yet the Dallas Stars present quite a conundrum: what’s the best way to put a way a team with this much firepower?

    Tonight may have presented the greatest evidence that this team won’t go away easy, as it seemed like the Minnesota Wild had the best of a tired Stars team* when they built a 3-0 lead.

    Instead, the Stars scored three third-period goals while Tyler Seguin capped the comeback with an overtime-winner.

    It was one of those bend-and-then-break moments for Minnesota. Dallas generated a 44-26 shot advantage, including a ridiculous 35-15 edge in the final two periods.

    Does that mean that Mike Yeo may have tried to play too conservatively with a healthy lead? It’s a possibility.

    On the other hand, would the Wild be wiser to try to run-and-gun with one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL?

    It sure seems like a pick-your-poison situation. Which way would you lean, though?

    * – To be fair to Minnesota, each team was on back-to-backs.

    Price paid: Devils come back against Condon, Canadiens

    Mike Condon, John Moore,
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    If nothing else, the New Jersey Devils seem like they won’t be the sort of team a contender can essentially mark off as a “W” on their calendars.

    The Montreal Canadiens may not be in a position to take opponents lightly with Carey Price on the shelf, but whatever the case may be, they saw their four-game winning streak end in frustrating fashion on Saturday.

    After falling behind 2-0, the Devils scrapped their way back into it, eventually riding a John Moore overtime goal to a 3-2 OT win.

    If Montreal needs an obvious bright side to look on considering this hiccup, Alex Galchenyuk‘s hot weekend may be a good thing to look at.

    Tonight’s loss may smart a bit anyway, however.

    Metro’s best? Capitals keep winning, pass Rangers for division lead

    Jonathan Bernier; Matt Niskanen; Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau

    If you want to summarize the Capitals – Maple Leafs game in one sentence, you could do worse than:

    “Washington is hot as Jonathan Bernier is cold.”

    The Caps reeled off a 4-2 win against Toronto on Saturday, giving them five straight wins. They also jumped into first place in the Metropolitan Division today, as they keep climbing while the New York Rangers are experiencing some growing pains.

    Again, James Reimer can’t get healthy and back in Toronto’s net too soon:

    With this win, Washington is now 17-5-1, leading the Metro by one point with 35 standings points. They also hold a game in hand against the Rangers, and no other Metro team even has 30 right now.

    Measuring stick stretch begins

    Tonight’s game began a “prove-it” month-and-change for Washington.

    This contest began a three-game road trip, and they’ll also play six of seven away from Washington.

    It’s pretty rough through the start of 2016, really. The Capitals will only enjoy three home games through Jan. 9.

    In other words, the Capitals seem like a convincing East contender, but look out if they remain hot through the next 5-6 weeks.

    Video: Evgeni Malkin leaves Oilers spinning


    Yes, there’s a lot of drama surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins, whether it’s founded on serious problems or merely speculation.

    It’s easy to get swept up in all of that and ignore the fact that, hey, they still have Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Those two can really heal wounds with their on-ice play, and in Saturday’s case, Malkin is taking over against the Edmonton Oilers.

    His spin-o-rama goal above was a real jaw-dropper. He also scored Pittsburgh’s second tally:

    These highlights feel like Malkin’s way of saying “It’s going to be just fine.”

    Update: It wasn’t enough for a win, however, as the Oilers beat the Penguins 3-2 via a shootout.