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Feet Of Clay: Zac Rinaldo Is Not The Forward You Are Looking For

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If you've followed any of the Chowder staff on Twitter, you know that this blog is not exactly a Zac Rinaldo fan club. But it appears that there's a concerted attempt to convince Bruins fans that a guy who's got more suspensions than NHL goals in his career is a good pickup. As the hype machine ramps up, let's provide some balance. Zac Rinaldo is not even close to the players he's supposed to be replacing.

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Myths are a funny thing. So is myth-making.

Sometimes myth-making is helpful. Marc Savard's OT winner against Philadelphia, for example, is still a beautiful thing to watch, not because of the context of the goal but because of the story behind it. The IT WAS FOUR ONE game will always be special, even though it's come to be seen more as a great comeback from Boston more than the utter tyre-fire wrapped in a demolition and garnished with a burning dumpster that was Toronto throwing that game away.

Those myths can be nurtured. They help the moment. They help people feel happy. They are beneficial.

Then, there are the myths and narratives that don't so much need to be picked apart and countered as blown to pieces. The kind that don't just need to be discredited but ripped apart with the force and brutal violence of a chaingun assault on a puppy farm.

One of those types of myths was seen today, and the worrying thing is, it's coming from inside the organisation, or at least from writers close to it.

Matt Kalman of CBS Boston produced this article on Rinaldo's arrival in Boston today - a piece that's desperately trying to talk up the human (career)-wrecking ball as a viable addition to the Bruins, but that contains one quote that is both jaw-dropping in its hype and horrfying in its inaccuracy:

"The Bruins see Rinaldo as a combination of Thornton's fighting, Campbell's shot blocking and Paille's penalty killing"

The trouble is, not only is Rinaldo not a "combination" of three players whose status as the defensive legends that were the "Merlot Line" (a line still much-loved by Boston fans) - he wasn't even close to any of them individually.

Let's take a look at the comparison, courtesy of fellow Chowderite Mike Leonard picking up the numbers. The following is a direct statistical breakdown of Zac Rinaldo vs the Merlot Line in the categories picked up upon, from the last three NHL seasons:

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What we're looking at here is, from left to right:

The season the stats are from, the player's age, the team, league, games played, time on ice (in minutes), shots blocked, the time spent on ice in a PK situation, fighting majors, and average time on ice/game.

As you can see by comparing the columns, Rinaldo is a LONG way behind all three players in their "specialist" areas.

He blocks less than half as many shots as Campbell.

He fights less than half the amount of Thornton.

And as for penalty killing...in 2012/13 he spends 31 seconds on the PK all year. In 13/14, 6 minutes. In 14/15, 15 minutes. (for comparison, Paille's numbers are 80 minutes, 105 minutes and 96 minutes.)

But, raw numbers perhaps don't take into account game situations or usage, I hear you say...

OK, let's narrow this down a little further. What if we work out what the numbers are for each category per 60 minutes that they're on the ice, in all situations, for that WHOLE period? How many shots they block per 60 minutes they're on ice, how many fights, and the amount of PK time they get per game over that whole period? Does that paint a better picture?

Erm...

Rinaldo blocks three shots for every two hours of ice time. That's less than a 3rd of Gregory Campbell.

His PK time per game is..12 seconds. That's less than a tenth of Dan Paille, and even smaller a percentage of Campbell.

And that fighting? That physical presence Rinaldo's supposed to give?

One fight every two games. That's half Thornton's numbers in Boston.

So, essentially what the Bruins have here, according to Matt Kalman, is a player who they are hoping will triple his shot blocking, be able to be used TEN TIMES as much as he has been to date on the PK...and double his fighting majors.

To do one of those things is a big ask indeed. To do all three and provide the "combination" that is hoped for? That's going to require an elevation of talent/breakout season the likes of which haven't been seen in many, many years.

It's also a hell of a lot to ask of a player who currently has more suspensions than he has NHL goals.

Rinaldo himself has backed this up with a lot of big talk of how he's going to be "an energy guy", throw hits. In fact, the word "energy" was used 15 times alone in that Kalman article, mostly by Rinaldo.

But the same happened in Philadelphia. The same talk came out in Philadelphia. The same failures happened in Philadelphia.

Essentially, the numbers don't back up what the Bruins hope will happen. They don't even come close.

They're screaming a message that the Bruins need to hear.

"Zac Rinaldo is not the forward you're looking for."

The scary thing is, more and more people in Boston seem to slowly be blinding themselves to it.