Flyers, Sens Get Physical; Could See Suspensions
The Flyers and Senators made some noise outside of the Wells Fargo Center Saturday afternoon.
The big hits and the fights got the crowd vocally active in the Flyers 2-1 win over the Senators, and it will get the NHL's head disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan vocally involved sometime in the next couple days.
The highlight of the extracurricular activities came midway through the first period. Flyers winger Harry Zolnierczyk came flying across the ice to deliver a massive hit on Ottawa's Mike Lundin.
Zolnierczyk left his feet to deliver the hit, driving his shoulder into the head of Lundin. Lundin was knocked out of the game due to the hit, and Zolnierczyk got a five-minute major for charging and a 10-minute game misconduct.
The play went by fast, and head coach Peter Laviolette's immediate reaction was that he didn't see anything wrong with it.
"You know you look at it like Harry didn’t really do anything wrong," Laviolette said. "As he was lining up, he didn’t take strides, everything was down, his arms were down and it was just an impact. It made a loud noise, sometimes the hits that make the loud noise get looked at, It appeared going into the hit that everything was in check."
As a result of the hit, Zac Rinaldo squared up with Kaspars Daugavins, who was ready to take Zolnierczyk's head off.
The hit was nearly identical to the one Zolnierczyk delivered to Washington's Matthieu Perreault on Wednesday. Zolnierczyk was said to have kneed Perreault during the hit, but the NHL rescinded the major he received at the end of the game for the play.
Zolnierczyk won't escape punishment this time has the fact he left his feet and delivered a blow to the head will warrant him at least a two-game suspension.
The game turned into a powder keg after that play, seeing Senators tough guys Chris Neil and Zack Smith mixing it up with Scott Hartnell, Brayden Schenn, Claude Giroux, and Rinaldo throughout the game.
With 6:31 left in the third, Rinaldo took a run at Chris Phillips along the boards. He hit Phillips from the side, but it set off Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson and he had enough of the Flyers top pest skating around and dishing out hits.
Alfredsson attacked Rinaldo from behind, cross checking him up high and driving him into the boards. Rinaldo immediately went down and a scrum ensued along the Senators bench.
Alfredsson was hit with a five-minute major for cross checking and given a game misconduct. He explained his actions after the game.
“Well, it’s a bad play by him," Alfredsson said. "Phillips is in a vulnerable position right by the boards and he hits him from the side, behind kind of, and I didn’t really know if Chris was injured at the time or not, but I did not like that hit at all.”
Rinaldo executed his job perfectly, getting Alfredsson to go after him and get taken out of the game, all while drawing only a two-minute minor for roughing on his own. It's the exact type of play the Flyers expect out of Rinaldo, and he's been doing it well.
"I think everyone is gunning for me sometimes, but that is just my mindset," Rinaldo said. "I think it was pretty cool that Danny Alfredsson came after me. I always watched him growing up so I think it was pretty cool."
After the play, members of the Ottawa bench were jawing with Rinaldo, who had to be restrained by the referees. After 50 minutes of pushing, shoving and heated exchanges, it's a surprise no line brawls reminiscent of the infamous 2004 game broke out.
“It was a chippy game," Alfredsson said. "No question, I think we took exception to some of their hits and felt like the referees didn’t call everything that maybe they should have. We stuck up for each other and obviously my 5 minutes kind of hurt us in our chance to get back, but they killed it off and we got really close at the end to tie it up.”