Flyers

Rinaldo getting more involved on penalty kill

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Rinaldo getting more involved on penalty kill

WINNIPEG, Manitoba --  Peter Laviolette talked about it.

More than once.

Zac Rinaldo as a penalty killer.

Laviolette wasn’t here long enough this season to see it happen, but under Craig Berube it’s happened four times, including Friday night's 3-2 shootout loss to the Jets at MTS Centre (see story).

“We’re working him hard in practice,” Berube said. “We needed him there in that situation in a tight game. We had him there against Pittsburgh and we’d like to get him more time there. We’re working with him. It’s a good role for him.”

Rinaldo actually had 1:09 of PK time during the Flyers' 2-1 win over the Penguins on Wednesday. His season high was 1:12 against Washington. Then again, the Flyers had a short roster that night during their 7-0 loss to the Caps and needed bodies.

Friday against the Jets, he logged 1:24 PK time in the first period alone, even starting the game on the first kill of the evening. He finished the game with 1:34 penalty kill time.

Not bad considering he played all of 50 seconds the entire lockout-shortened season. Officially, the NHL had Rinaldo averaging :01 a game.

This season? He’s played 2:43 -- or :09 a game. Up a little.

“I’m excited about it,” Rinaldo said. “The more responsibility, the better for me.”

What does Rinaldo bring besides hitting?

“Well, speed, he can skate,” Berube replied. “No fear to block shots. That’s the main ingredient. Just some reads. I think over time, he’ll get the right reads. He understands the system.”

Rinaldo says he will not approach the PK any different than if he were taking a regular fourth-line shift at even strength.

“I’m more useful if I don’t have a different mindset,” he said. “Just skate hard and play on the PK like it’s my last shift.”

Best of NHL: Jaden Schwartz hat trick lifts Blues over Blackhawks

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Best of NHL: Jaden Schwartz hat trick lifts Blues over Blackhawks

ST. LOUIS -- Jaden Schwartz had his third career hat trick to help the St. Louis Blues beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 on Wednesday night.

Schwartz has four goals and six assists this season and has at least one point in six of the Blues' first seven games. It was his 51st career multi-point game and fourth this season.

Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and an assist, Kyle Brodziak also scored, and Jake Allen made 22 saves. The Blues snapped a two-game losing streak

Duncan Keith and Ryan Hartman had late goals for Blackhawks, and Corey Crawford made 28 saves (see full recap).

Maple Leafs ride big 1st period to win
TORONTO -- Curtis McElhinney made 29 saves in his season debut and the Toronto Maple Leafs scored four times in the first period in a 6-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night.

Starting in place of Frederik Andersen, McElhinney stopped 14 shots in the third period to hold off the Red Wings.

Nazem Kadri, Zach Hyman, Auston Matthews, Connor Brown, Morgan Rielly and William Nylander scored to help Toronto improve to an NHL-best 6-1-0. The Maple Leafs were coming off a 2-0 victory at Washington on Tuesday night.

Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Tatar, Jonathan Ericsson scored for the Red Wings, and Nick Jensen had three assists.

Jimmy Howard gave up three goals on four shots before getting yanked in favor of Petr Mrazek late in the first period (see full recap).

How Michal Neuvirth found fresh inspiration in being a dad

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How Michal Neuvirth found fresh inspiration in being a dad

For the first time in his nine-year career, Michal Neuvirth knows when he gets home at night after a game, there will be someone waiting for him with a smile.

Win or lose, it doesn’t matter to Neuvirth, or especially to his one-month-old daughter, Emily Gudasová Carolina.

“When you come home, there’s a baby waiting and it's such an amazing feeling that someone is waiting for you at home,” Neuvirth said after Tuesday's 5-1 win over Florida. “Last year, I was mostly here by myself, so I definitely like it better having a family with me now.”

Family now consists of his newborn daughter, his fiancee Karolína Gudasová and uncle Radko Gudas, Gudasová’s older brother and Neuvirth’s Flyers teammate.

To those of us on the outside, the responsibility of fatherhood seemingly has altered Neuvirth’s disposition. He smiles more, cracks a few jokes and elaborates just a little more with his answers to the media. Perhaps, he can tolerate us because there’s a deeper purpose and a sense of providing that comes with fatherhood.  

“It’s an amazing feeling being a dad,” Neuvirth said. “For me, I just have another motivation to play for my family now.”

Of course, it also helps I’ve yet to see Neuvirth yawn or show up to practice with bags under his eyes. He has escaped any late-night drama with an eight-day road trip to start the season, and for now, he apparently has a rare lifetime pass for any early morning feedings.  

“I have an amazing fiancee. She takes care of her (Emily) as much as she needs to,” Neuvirth said. “I usually put her to bed at 10-10:30. During the night, Karolina goes and feeds her in the living room, and I’m a deep sleeper, so she doesn’t wake me up.”

As Gudasová has kept an eye on the cradle, Neuvirth has secured the crease. He’s allowed three goals in his two starts this season with a .956 save percentage, which has initiated the debate for more playing time.

Interestingly, adapting to a new addition is something Neuvirth has also discussed with teammate and fellow netminder, Brian Elliott, who went through a similar set of circumstances with his son, Owen, last season in Calgary. Elliott called that first month with the Flames “a huge adjustment” and his October numbers reflected that.

Six games into the season, Neuvirth apparently has it all figured out. 

Of course, a good night’s sleep has a way of bringing clarity to the situation.