Just minutes after Marc Staal’s forearm shiver to the head of Jason Spezza in Ottawa, Zac Rinaldo decided he wanted some of the NHL playoff spotlight with this series of cheap shots on Zbynek Michalek in Philadelphia:
While Staal’s hit was at least somewhat debatable, there’s really no arguing this one.
The initial cross-check was punishable, but it certainly wasn’t malicious enough to warrant anything other than a standard penalty. Where Rinaldo pushed the envelope and revealed the goon inside of him was the first cheap shot after the cross check, while Michalek was still lying face down on the ice.
And then of course, for good measure, Rinaldo waits for Michalek to get to his knees, bulges his eyes like a mad man, and drives his fists into Michalek’s head, knocking him back down to ice level.
Staal should have received a penalty for his hit on Spezza in the Sens/Rangers game, but you’ll notice that I didn’t mention any sort of supplemental discipline in my review of that incident. In this case, however, I don’t see how Rinaldo can avoid supplemental discipline.
Combine a cross check from behind into the boards with a couple of elbows to the head of a defenseless player, topped off with a straight shot to the head, and anything less than a suspension will be a massive dropping of the ball from Brendan Shanahan and the NHL.
For the record, Rinaldo received a couple of minor penalties for cross-checking and roughing on the play, as well as a game misconduct.
And in case you forgot, it was a Rinaldo hit from behind on Michalek a couple of weeks ago that got the bad blood boiling between the Flyers and Pens, so you know there is some history there.