( Photo Credit:  Bob DeChiara / USA TODAY Sports )

By: Lauren Spencer | Follow me on Twitter: @laurenspenc

Throughout the season, the Bruins were faced with a number of injury problems. They had to start the season without Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy, and Matt Grzelcyk and lost Jake DeBrusk with a broken foot for weeks right after the Winter Classic. There were also injuries from Taylor Hall and Derek Forbort, but one player that has missed time might be able to return at just the right moment. With the potential return of Nick Foligno, the Bruins can hopefully gain back an important piece of their team. 

 Nick Foligno has been out of the line-up after a lower-body injury in a February game against the Calgary Flames. Foligno had been putting up substantial numbers on the season, having ten goals and sixteen assists in sixty games played. Foligno has been practicing in a full-contact jersey in the last week and seems ready to get back into it. He mentioned after Saturday’s practice that he felt good, both mentally and physically, and that he had made threats to anyone who may try to stop him from playing in Game One. 

Foligno has also shown himself to be a fixture in the locker room, with clips courtesy of Behind the B displaying that he can rally the team through his emotional speeches and motivational attitude. As he has become affectionately known, Uncle Nick has been one of the crucial pieces in the team camaraderie that has been displayed all year.

Goalie Jeremy Swayman even mentioned that Foligno and his wife Janelle went above and beyond after his injury in November, making him home-cooked meals to return to. These gestures have undoubtedly played a massive role in the brotherhood these Bruins players have developed throughout the season. 

 As a league veteran, Foligno can also bring a unique leadership perspective to the locker room through the playoffs. Foligno was the captain of the 2018-2019 Columbus Blue Jackets team that shocked the dominant Tampa Bay Lightning in a four-game sweep. While he has never won a Stanley Cup, Foligno has shown he has what it takes to win throughout the playoffs.

Having Nick in the locker room, along with other long-tenured players, such as Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Brad Marchand, can help to focus and reassure other players throughout this grueling period of hockey. The Bruins have shown all year what they are capable of physically, but having their complete leadership team back can help with the mental strain that the playoffs will likely bring.

If Nick Foligno is cleared to play, it brings Jim Montgomery to the difficult decision of which forward will sit. It’s hard to say who will fill that role, as the bottom six has been filled with players who have earned their spot in the line-up. Based on practice lines, it may come down to players such as Jakub Lauko, A.J. Greer, or Trent Frederic, who must sit, barring any other potential injuries to the forwards.

Having so much talent scratched at game time would hurt most teams, but having too much depth is a good problem to have for this Bruins team. Plus, everyone knows that anything can happen in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Having these established NHL players as reserves can significantly impact the Bruins as they look to make a deep run this Spring.