( Photo Credit: Charles Krupa / AP )

By: Zach Beauchaine |Follow me on Twitter @OtisTheMango

The month of March is a particularly challenging one for National Hockey League teams. Teams often play several games on back-to-back nights, and injuries sometimes mount up. In March, teams do everything they can to prepare for the playoffs. The Boston Bruins have already secured their spot in the 2023 NHL playoffs; however, they have recently lost two veteran forwards due to injury.

Boston’s trip to Western Canada saw forwards Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno both land on the team’s injured reserve list. Hall was placed on long-term injured reserve, and Foligno was listed as week to week, then inevitably added to I.R. In the road game against the Calgary Flames, Foligno collided with Calgary defenseman Nikita Zadorov along the boards in the second period of the game. The collision had the Boston forward struggling to skate back to the Bruins bench. 

The tough veteran made his way down the tunnel favoring his left leg. He would not return to the game that evening against Calgary. Foligno had been on the wrong side of injury trouble before; the team would be down a significant role player. 

The former Columbus Blue Jackets captain brings a strong voice to the Bruins dressing room. He is a player who fully understands the fortitude and mental toughness it takes to find success in the current NHL. Foligno is the type of player who has a rallying impact on his teammates. His leadership stands to get the team back on track when they find themselves in a losing funk.

During the 2023 NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park, the Bruins were down 1-0 after two periods of play. Despite the low-scoring nature of the contest, Boston’s team struggled to formulate any offense. They were sitting ducks in the first 40 minutes of play. Foligno requested that head coach Jim Montgomery give him the room in the second intermission. 

Uncle Nick addressed the roster as a whole and grabbed everybody’s attention swiftly. It was a moment where Nick knew he had to spark a sense of purpose and drive to get his teammates going. The message may have been simple, but the Bruins read it loud and clear. The boys came out firing in the third and final period. The team carried a strong shot mentality, sending pucks on net from all over the attacking zone. Right-Winger Jake DeBrusk scored two goals in the final period to drive the B’s to a 2-1 victory over Pittsburgh.

 His urgency worked wonders to wake the team up after a sloppy beginning to the Winter Classic. His veteran leadership is a duly noted attribute to the success of this year’s Bruins team and is just one example of Foligno’s hockey talents.

The on-ice skills of an NHL player are not the only ones of significance when campaigning for a championship. The injury to Foligno is a shaky bump in the road for Boston as the regular season approaches its conclusion. It is a hurdle that has most clearly disrupted the chemistry of Boston over the last few games. The team misses his presence and needs his voice back in their dressing room. His return from injury does not have a specific timeline at this point. 

The Stanley Cup Playoffs will begin in late April. Ideally, Foligno will draw back into the lineup around this time. His veteran understanding and motivating tactics will be needed for a deep playoff run in Boston. In the meantime, the B’s will need to conjure up their complete determination to power through the season’s final stretch. In the coming weeks, they will undoubtedly be tired but can not take their feet off the gas. A healthy Foligno return would reinforce serious determination in the locker room. 

The veteran of 16 NHL seasons is vital to have alongside during the journey. Boston has one of the deepest rosters in history. Nick Foligno is a valued part of that depth with what he brings to the table.