Zac Rinaldo

Coyotes are (gasp) on a winning streak

2 Comments

As of this writing, the Arizona Coyotes have the least standings points in the NHL (11) despite playing a league-leading 22 games.

Things could change for this young team, but for now, it’s about small victories, which makes actual wins that much bigger. Perhaps what they really needed was this road trip through Canada?

After losing to the Jets in Winnipeg 4-1 on Nov. 14 (no real shame, really, as everyone’s losing to the Jets lately … just ask the Devils), the Coyotes left Claude Julien and the Montreal Canadiens fuming by getting their first regulation win of 2017-18 by a score of 5-4.

Arizona couldn’t make it consecutive wins in regulation, but when Anthony Duclair completed a hat trick with the overtime game-winner, they did something rare: the Coyotes won back-to-back games. Yes, gang, those scrappy kids now have their very own winning streak after today’s 3-2 OT win against the Ottawa Senators.

They wrap up this run of Canadian games by facing the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Monday.

Just like any self-respecting sports team, the Coyotes get to participate in a ceremony after wins.

One would guess that Zac Rinaldo got the “championship belt” stemming from the rough stuff between the Coyotes and Canadiens, which included a Rinaldo fight (no surprise) and Tomas Plekanec‘s first NHL bout (in his 941st career game).

The Coyotes want to bounce back from their bad start, while Duclair hopes to shed the weight of a lousy 2016-17 season.

At 4-15-3, Arizona might already be in too big of a hole to make any waves. Even so, they can gain some respect, and show that they’re not as bad as their record indicates. Heck, a win in Toronto would give them an undeniably successful road trip, something that’s not always a layup even for established, contending teams.

Now, now, all of that aside … it might be a little too early to take them seriously.

—

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Coyotes get first regulation win, Plekanec’s first NHL fight

The Montreal Canadiens and Arizona Coyotes don’t strike you as natural rivals, but the animosity can build pretty quickly when two teams start, well, striking each other.

The Coyotes currently lead the Canadiens 5-4, but even so, you could see frustrations spilling over at times during Thursday’s action. In some cases, it was pretty run-of-the-mill, as Zac Rinaldo fought with Nicolas Deslauriers.

To be fair, there were at least some hard punches thrown, with Rinaldo getting the worst of it, seemingly:

As you can see from the video above this post’s headline, there was a truly startling fight, as Tomas Plekanec dropped his gloves for his first bout in his 941st game. Granted, there were times when he didn’t seem like he was totally on board with the fight against Brad Richardson.

You’ll note that there was blood, possibly from Plekanec? It was also that rare fight where a combatant was allowed to return to his feet.

Two questions remain: can the Coyotes hold on for a regulation win, and will Plekanec nab a “Gordie Howe hat trick?”

Update: No Howe hat trick for Plekanec. Instead, the Coyotes protected that 5-4 for their first regulation win of 2017-18. They improved to 3-15-3 on the season.

Here’s hoping Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher is OK:

—

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Rinaldo suspended five games for illegal check to Paquette’s head

18 Comments

Bruins forward Zac Rinaldo has been suspended five games for an illegal check to the head of Lightning forward Cedric Paquette.

In the explanatory video, the NHL’s Department of Player said that Rinaldo made Paquette’s head the “main point of contact on a hit where such head contact is avoidable,” while later noting that Rinaldo is a repeat offender under terms of the CBA.

Prior to today’s ruling, Rinaldo had managed to avoid suspension/fine this season. However, he received an eight-game ban for charging/boarding Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang last season and, the season prior, was suspended four games for an illegal check to the head of then-Buffalo defenseman Chad Ruhwedel. He also served a two-game ban in 2012 for charging Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson.

The hit on Paquette was not Rinaldo’s first controversial play of 2015-16. In October, the Department of Player Safety released a video explaining why Rinaldo was not suspended for charging Flyers forward Sean Couturier.

Here’s the video explanation for the Paquette hit:

Yesterday, Rinaldo was assigned to AHL Providence. No word when or if he’ll be called up to serve his suspension.

The 25-year-old is under contract through next season for a cap hit of $850,000.

Roundup: Habs claim Brown, Devils claim Warsofsky

Getty Images
1 Comment

Quick look at some of the moves made via waivers on trade deadline day…

— Montreal replaced some of the grit at depth lost at forward from the Dale WeiseTomas Fleischmann trade by picking up Mike Brown from the Sharks. Brown, 30, has appeared in 44 games for San Jose this season, scoring one goal and three points while racking up 63 PIM.

Brown is in the last of a two-year, $2.4 million deal with a $1.25M average annual cap hit.

— New Jersey added some depth on defense by claiming David Warsofsky off waiver from the Penguins. Warsofsky, 25, is a decent offensive blueliner that’s failed to make much of an impact at the NHL level, scoring just two goals and four points in 22 career games.

This year, Warsofsky appeared in 12 contests for the Penguins, a career high. He’s on a one-year, $600,000 deal and will be an RFA on July 1.

— There were no takers for a pair of goalies exposed to waivers yesterday (Toronto’s Alex Stalock and Colorado’s Reto Berra), nor did anyone put in a claim for Columbus’ Rene Bourque or Boston’s Zac Rinaldo.

It’s worth noting that Rinaldo has a disciplinary hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Tuesday, following his high hit on Tampa Bay’s Cedric Paquette.

Related: Oilers pick up Cracknell, Pardy off waivers

Rinaldo to have hearing for high hit on Paquette (Video)

20 Comments

Boston forward Zac Rinaldo will have a disciplinary hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety following his high hit on Tampa Bay’s Cedric Paquette on Sunday, the league has announced.

The hit, which occurred midway through the opening period, earned Rinaldo a two minute minor for an illegal check to the head. Paquette exited briefly but did return to finish with 12:30 TOI.

Rinaldo has a long and checkered history when it comes to questionable hits and supplemental discipline, so news of his hearing — which will take place tomorrow — doesn’t come as a huge surprise.

Though he’s managed to avoid suspension or fines this season, he received a hefty eight-game ban for charging/boarding Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang last season and, the season prior, was suspended four games for an illegal check to the head of then-Buffalo defenseman Chad Ruhwedel.