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Foligno Looks To Rebound From ‘One Of Those Years’

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In many ways, last season feels like a bit of a lost season for Boston Bruins forward Nick Foligno.

The 34-year-old had a hard time staying healthy, never cemented a consistent role with the Boston Bruins when he was in the lineup and didn’t really seem to be on the same page with former head coach Bruce Cassidy. It was reflected in Foligno’s season with the B’s as he posted a career-low two goals and just 13 points in 64 games while posting a minus-13 rating while mostly playing a bottom-6 role for the Black and Gold.

Needless to say, the production combined with a $3.8 million salary cap hit had funs grumbling about the Foligno contract in the same way they had about David Backes and Matt Beleskey during the Don Sweeney era guiding the Bruins front office.

“I get it. There’s a number, there’s a salary, and I get that. But guys, I’ve played long enough to know that if you’re out there in certain situations, important minutes, then that’s really what matters,” said Foligno. “And I think that’s what your teammates expect out of you and that’s really where you get the respect from coaches and players.

“The goals are important and when you have the opportunities you got to bury them. That’s part of this league, but it’s also what do you do away from the puck, especially in the role you’re asked, and I’m in a different role in my career now. So it’s just making sure that I’m doing the things necessary to allow our line to be really good each and every night, but also helping the other guys that do the hard work and let those guys score their goals. I still expect myself to bring offensive production. I know I can, so that was disappointing last year, but I’m looking forward to doing that this year.”

Foligno was better in the Stanley Cup playoffs as he gelled with Tomas Nosek and Curtis Lazar for an excellent energy line that played well in the seven-game series against the Carolina Hurricanes but was still left feeling like he had a lot to prove in his second season in Boston.

“Two goals isn’t what I expect, but I just came in [this season] and tried to to reset and work on some of the things that I’ve always worked on,” said Foligno, who has 205 goals and 499 points on his NHL ledger to this point in his career with 1,021 games in the league. “I know I can score goals; I’m not worried about that. I think my track record speaks for itself.

“It’s just more about putting myself in positions to [score]. I think, last year I just could never get going, and it was just one of those years.”

It certainly was “one of those years”, but it’s also fair to ask if this is a declining trend for a 34-year-old player that’s not getting any younger or faster in a league that’s getting younger, faster and more skilled every year. Foligno’s numbers have been in decline for four straight seasons from 17 goals and 35 points in 2018-19, and it would be surprising if he’s even able to get back to that level at this late stage in his career.

There’s still room for players like the 6-foot, 211-pound Foligno willing to battle his way to the net-front and do the dirty work there, and that’s what the new Boston Bruins coaching staff is expecting of the forward in his second year in Boston.

“He’s someone that has great leadership and someone that we’re looking for to help create a clear identity on the third or fourth line as far as puck possession, being hard on people, and being relentless on top of pucks,” said Montgomery. “I expect him to be a big part of what we did this year because of those things.

“I think he’s playing a lot freer, he’s getting on top of pucks, he’s creating a lot of loose pucks, he’s getting to the net front, and that’s where he’s made his whole career.”

It was a good first step in Saturday night’s exhibition opener as Foligno finished with five shot attempts and six hits in over 18 minutes of ice time, and even better that he felt healthy coming out of it all. But the real test for Foligno and the Boston Bruins will be how effective he can be in this second season with the Black and Gold with a lot to prove after a very disappointing opener in Boston.

Joe Haggerty has covered the Boston Bruins and the NHL for 18 years with NBC Sports Boston, WEEI.com, the Boston Metro and the Woburn Daily Times, and currently serves as lead Bruins reporter and columnist for Boston Hockey Now. Haggs always strives to capture the spirt of the thing any way that he can.

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Mrbruin4

I hope does rebound. But odds are against it

Steve R.

Bottom line,you can t have a 4th line player making 3.8 million in a salary cap world when a younger player can,should and will give you that making less than a million.

JustJim

He needs supervision. He gets into too much trouble (penalties) when left to his own devices.

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