The Flyers will be down another forward on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Wild, as tenacious winger Zac Rinaldo has been officially labeled day-to-day with an upper-body injury according to general manager Paul Holmgren.
The injury is the second in as many days for the Flyers, who lost forward James van Riemsdyk to a concussion on Sunday.
Rinaldo, sitting second in the NHL in penalty minutes with 122, was hit in the face with a puck during Monday’s afternoon practice. Originally stated to be a game-time decision, the Flyers iced Rinaldo, who will be replaced by enforcer Jody Shelley on the team’s fourth line.
Rinaldo has a goal and four assists in 35 games. Shelley has an assist in 14 games
Considered one of the NHL’s leading injury reserves for the All-Star Game in Ottawa on Jan. 29, Flyers forward Scott Hartnell could still be on the outside looking in despite open spots.
With injuries to selected All-Stars, Minnesota Wild’s Mikko Koivu and Dallas Stars’ Jamie Benn, Hartnell, who is having a career season with 19 goals and 19 assists in 43 games, might still be behind unheralded but buzz-worthy Phoenix Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata, who has 22 goals and 15 assists in 45 games.
Helping Vrbata jump on the All-Star map is his three goals and assist in his last three games.
“There’s no directive to replace a Wild player with another unless he’s a worthy candidate,” said Wild beat reporter Michael Russo. “So I’m not so sure the Wild will have a representative anymore. I’d think Radim Vrbata gets the call or Scottie Hartnell.”
Another option to consider is the promotion of another Wild player in Koivu’s wake. Winger and former Senator Dany Heatley has been tagged as the only other consideration with 13 goals and 17 assists in 45 games. The move would also provide valuable drama to an otherwise drama-less event, as Heatley demanded a trade out of Ottawa in late 2009, causing immense bad blood with the city and its fans.
Florida Panthers forward Kris Versteeg could also be a name on the table, with 17 goals and 22 assists in 42 games.