By: Carter Hochman | Follow me on Twitter @Carterr33
In a dominating win against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning, there was a glaring issue that remained in the forefront of every Bruins fan’s mind, and that was the awkward fall that Nick Foligno took, resulting in him leaving the game not to return. It didn’t look good then, it didn’t look good in the replays, and from what we’re hearing from Bruce Cassidy, it still doesn’t look good.
While we await the MRI results, let’s reminisce about what life has been like with and without Nick Foligno in the lineup. Cassidy has repeatedly said how Foligno has earned his place in the Bruins lineup each game, and he’s there for a reason, despite what his numbers say for the season. The 34-year-old former Blue Jackets captain has played in 23 games this season, scoring one goal, five assists, 26 PIMs, and a +/- rating of -6.
Now, I know what you’re thinking; those are less than flattering numbers. But for me, I’m a huge believer in non-tangible traits, and I believe that Nick Foligno is full of them. I do not take a guy like Bruce Cassidy for a fool, and understand that Foligno brings much more to the table than what Bruins fans see for two and a half hours at a time. Good locker room attitude, obvious leadership qualities, penalty kill abilities, work rate and many other qualities are something that can make any team better and well-functioning without producing numbers.
We saw what life was like without Foligno early in the season, and it was a domino effect of line shuffling, bad chemistry, low work rate, and overall a not-so-great brand of hockey for a normally fluid hockey club. We can also (definitely) partially attribute some of the lack of chemistry and line-shuffling to the offseason departure of David Krejci, but that’s a whole other article.
We’ve learned pretty quickly that the Bruins are not exactly a deep club at the moment, and plenty of names are being tossed around for the Bruins to acquire, but I won’t speculate there either. What I will point out, is almost all of the names I’m hearing being thrown out there are almost all defensemen. I’m not saying that the Bruins don’t need help at the blue line, because believe me they do, but that should not overshadow how shallow they are past the second line.
We can certainly only hope that the injury looked scarier than it is, and of course keep our fingers crossed that if he is out it’s not long term nor will it require any sort of surgery. It’s a pretty universal consensus that Nick Foligno is a well-liked guy throughout the league and he hasn’t just gotten that reputation overnight.
That being said, there have been a few guys who have stepped up and been rotated through the lineup that have impressed and are likely to take over in Foligno’s absence. Names like Oskar Steen, Jack Studnicka, Anton Blidh, and Karson Kuhlman are likely to take on bigger roles especially as the taxi squad has been reintroduced.
It’s no secret the Bruins have started out of the extended holiday break on the right foot, but this will be yet another test for them moving forward, especially depending on how long Foligno remains out for.
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