Let me start off by saying I like Nick Foligno, always have, always will. He seems like a good guy, is appreciative of what he gets to do for a living and always plays hard. This isn't personal, it's business, and business is slow. Very slow.
It wasn't supposed to be like this. After all, Nick was a 1st rounder in 2006 and came from a good hockey pedigree, with his dad being a long time NHL vet and his brother being a prospect as well. He was supposed to help us with the secondary scoring we so desperately needed and showed some promise in his first few years.
Of course, Foligno had some shortcomings, his speed being the major problem, but being the kind of guy he is, Nick spent the summer working hard on improving it and is noticably faster this year, but still not quick enough. Because he isn't fast enough to beat anyone on the outside, he is often forced to stop and try and make a pass, instead of driving to the net for a clear shot, which is working against him becoming a consistent scorer.
There was some hope that he turned the corner in the pre-season, fresh off a surprising 2 year deal signed in the offseason that paid him 1.2 million per year. Coming into training camp, there was a top 6 spot available, with most, including myself, assuming it would go to the up and coming Peter Regin, who had improved as the season went on, and then had a very strong playoffs and world championships. I know I had penciled him in, but Foligno had other plans. He proceeded to be our breakout player of the pre-season and scored several highlight reel goals. He even looked a lot faster then in previous years and it was finally paying off. It was going so well for him that he was even the Bochenski award winner for pre-season excellence. The problem was now he faced increased expectations from our fan base.
For some reason we expected it continue once the regular season started, somehow forgetting that the pre-season consists of squads that are genreously at less than full strength. There is a big difference between scoring against mostly AHL teams and scoring against the best players in the world when the games count. I kept making excuses for him. It's only been a few games, he'll get it going, he's just off to a slow start, or he's been unlucky so far. Maybe he needs more time to gel with his new linemates on the 2nd line?
Well 2 games turned into 5, which turned to 10 and now it's at a pitiful 18 games without a goal. To put it mildly, that is unacceptable. So why hasn't Foligno been a healthy scratch even once? He is now playing on the 4th line, which doesn't really suit him if you ask me. What I want from my fourth line is to be fast, check hard, make life difficult for the other team and have the potential to fight if need be. Nick Foligno possesses none of those qualities unfortunately. You know who does? Zack Smith. Luckily for Foligno, Smith is on a 2 way contract, so he is in upsate New York instead of Ottawa, until the situation becomes dire or an injury occurrs.
So when will the goal slump end? How many chances do we give him? It isn't like he was Ovechkin or Crosby before this and is struggling. Perhaps this is just what he is. All I know is something has to change and fast. We can't continue to let him play with this lack of production.
Will he solve his slump? That remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure, his time to figure it out is getting shorter by the minute. I am rooting for him, but I fear that this is just reality. Sadly, I believe he is doing is best, the problem is it just isn't good enough.
Thoughts on what the problem/solution to the Foligno problem is?