Wild's Marcus Foligno 'hits like a truck,' and he's moving on up
CHICAGO — It didn't take long for big-bodied Marcus Foligno to realize there was something different about the culture of his new team. Whether it was the motivational quotes coach Bruce Boudreau has plastered on the walls of the Wild locker room, or the Stanley Cup expectations heading into the season, it was very clear to the 26-year-old that he wasn't in Buffalo anymore.
"Just the mentality going into games," said Foligno, who was acquired from the Sabres during the offseason in a trade that also netted Tyler Ennis in exchange for for Marco Scandella and Jason Pominville. "Losing is not an option. You know, in Buffalo, maybe they were a little more lenient because we were such a young group. That isn't the case here. Winning is the only option."
Foligno will likely play a big role in that this season, though the Wild haven't quite figured out how to use him yet.
Foligno will have played on three different lines in the Wild's first three games. He was on the third line in a 4-2 loss at Detroit, then got bumped up to the second line a couple days later in the 5-4 shootout loss at Carolina. He was scheduled to skate on the first line in Thursday night's game against the Blackhawks in Chicago.
While he hasn't had much time to develop chemistry with his linemates, Foligno isn't complaining about moving around.
"I think anywhere I play in this lineup I'm going to have the chance to have success," Foligno said before Thursday's game. "And playing on the first line with guys like Eric Staal and Charlie Coyle right now, it's a confidence boost, for sure. That said, I know I have to produce. It's a big game for us."
Foligno said in the offseason that he thinks he has the potential to be a 20-goal scorer. He had a career-high 13 goals last season.
"I definitely have to score goals to reach that mark," Foligno said. "I feel like the chances are there, and getting more familiar with these guys is only going to help. Hopefully the first goal comes early. It's something I don't want to get frustrated with if it doesn't come. I've got to keep working and capitalize when I get those chances."
Boudreau believes Foligno has "between 15 and 20 (goals) in him" in his current role. That said, Boudreau doesn't want the 6-foot-3, 230-pound winger to lose sight of what he does best.
"He hits like a truck," Boudreau said. "I think he's a great acquisition right now."
Foligno has a team-leading eight hits through two games. That total is sure to increase; Foligno registered 279 hits last season. To put that in perspective, Nino Niederreiter led the Wild last season with 120 hits.
"Yeah, I've got to make sure I'm consistently good at that," Foligno said. "That doesn't mean running around out there and looking for every hit. As long as I'm physical, and strong, and win my battles, then I'm doing the right thing. It's definitely an element that I bring to the team."
"You ask most defensemen and I don't think they like when they see him coming at them," Coyle said. "You start doing that early in games and they remember that. Maybe the other team starts coughing up pucks down the stretch. He brings that element to our team. We're lucky to have a guy like him."
And while Foligno will likely return to a bottom-six role when Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund return from injury, don't expect his game to change.
"I just have to bring my style of play every night," Foligno said. "We have a lot of guys that bring a lot to this lineup. We have so many guys that can do so many different things, so I have to continue to play my game and cash in when I can."
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