It is said often about a player in sports, "as he goes, the team goes." Usually this is referring to a teams best player or a key player in their lineup, but could that guy for the Flyers be a 4th line grinder?
The Flyers have played 62 games so far this year, recording 70 points with a 32-24-6 record. Zac Rinaldo has played in 51 of them. In the 11 games he has missed due to injury, the Flyers are a lowly 3-6-2 (0.73 P/G). When Zac is in the lineup, the Flyers are significantly better, 29-18-4 (1.22 P/G). Surely this could be a coincidence, or could Rinaldo have more of a profound impact than the stats, and the stat-nerds(I say this lovingly) suggest?
Even Strength TOI
We’ve already established that no Rinaldo is no good, but how about a little of Rinaldo? When he gets less than 5 minutes of ice time, the Flyers are 7-2-0. Right in the middle, or just below average of what a 4th line should get ice time wise, the Flyers are 8-8-1 when Rinaldo plays between 5 7 minutes. However, the numbers jump back up when Rinaldo sees more than 7 minutes of ice time, with the Flyers record being 14-8-2, including 4-2-0 when Rinaldo gets more than 10 minutes of even strength time. Not all of these games have been blowouts either, with 10 of the 14 wins (7+ TOI) being 2 goal games or less, and just one game with a 4+ goal differential (5-0 W vs. OTT).
For TOI: No Rinaldo = bad, Little Rinaldo = good, Average Rinaldo = average, and More Rinaldo = good.
Another aspect of Rinaldo’s game is his ability to agitate the other teams, both taking penalties himself and drawing penalties. In games where Rinaldo recorded 0 PIM, the Flyers are 16-15-3. This is still above 1 P/G (1.03) but below the team’s overall record of 1.12 P/G. When Rinaldo only fights in a game, with no other penalties (5 PIM total), the Flyers are 2-0-1. When Rinaldo strictly takes minor penalties (2, 4, or 6 PIM total), the Flyers are an astounding 9-1-0 (with the one loss being the 7-2 blowout at Chicago). However, when Rinaldo goes BSC (10 PIM or more), the Flyers are just 2-3-0.
For PIM: No Rinaldo = bad, Minor Rinaldo = good, Fighting Rinaldo = good (SSS), and BSC Rinaldo = bad.
Finally, hitting is a huge part of Rinaldo’s game. Once again, a little bit of Rinaldo is apparently good for the Flyers. when Rinaldo records 1 hit or less in the game the Flyers are 9-3-1. Average Rinaldo (2-3 hits) is not so good, as the Flyers are 9-12-1. When Rinaldo is really on his game and hitting people (4+ hits) the Flyers once again have a great record to the tune of 11-4-2.
For Hits: No to Little Rinaldo = Good, Average Rinaldo = bad, Hitting Rinaldo = good.
When Rinaldo is playing well and filling his role, the Flyers seem to be playing well as well. If Rinaldo isn't on the ice, isn't on his game, or is going crazy with misconducts, the Flyers seem to do a tad worse. This could all be purely coincidental, and as we all know correlation does not mean causation. However, every team needs role players on their teams, and being able to roll 4 lines is crucial. If Rinaldo can play his game well, and stick to his grinding role, it looks like the Flyers will be playing well. There are a bunch of players who have made a living in the bottom 6, and Rinaldo can easily be one of them.
DISCLAIMER: I obviously don't want Rinaldo seeing any more than the typical 4th liner. Just wanted to look more into Rinaldo's "eyeball" stats since advanced stats are harder to look at for 4th line players. Also just downloaded Microsoft Excel for Mac, so I wanted to play around in that a bit.