On trade deadline day when Darcy Regier helped Zack Kassian pack his luggage for Vancouver, I’m sure he knew. I’m sure he knew that Buffalo would be benefit from this mega force of a player joining his team. I’m sure he knew that the Sabres would immediately profit from his presence and I’m sure he knew that this player would help propel the club towards the post season. He knew it.
No. I’m not referring to Cody Hodgson. Although, Hodgson who went scoreless and -5 through his first 10 games as a Sabre has rebounded nicely with 7 points in his last 5 games including 3 – 2 point games. He will be a top 6 forward for this Sabres team for a long time to come. He will bring elements to this lineup that the Sabres fans will love. But no, I’m not referring to Cody.
Instead I’m referring to the player that the Sabres already had in their system, a player that grew up in Buffalo, a player whose father spent 10 years in the Blue and Gold and yes a player who was selected 104th overall in the 2009 NHL entry draft, exactly 91 spots later than Zack Kassian. Yes. I’m speaking of the incredible Marcus Foligno. With a healthy Zack Kassian in the lineup, a similarly built player at 6’3, 227 lbs, Marcus Foligno would be the second of power forward types to get the call.
Although, Foligno did get a call up to play against his brother Nick in Ottawa around Christmas but he didn’t stick and the Sabres lost 4-1. It wasn’t until 9 games ago, while entrenched in a playoff race with the AHL’s Rochester Americans, this young Canadian/American kid was brought up on an emergency basis and eventually got another start again in Ottawa against his brother Nick. But this time the tale was a little different. The Sabres would win by a 4-3 score.
Since Foligno’s arrival in the Sabres lineup they have won 7 of 9 games and their 2 losses have come in overtime meaning that they have secured 16 of a possible 18 points with him in the lineup. Tonight they defeated the Washington Capitals by a score of 5-1. This is the kind of force he was for Team Canada in the 2011 World Junior Championships.
Zack Kassian meanwhile has played in 13 games for the Vancouver Canucks and has only scored 1 goal and 1 assist, both of which were in the game in which the Canucks lost to the Buffalo Sabres. The Canucks are 6-5-2 with Kassian in the lineup, thanks to their last 3 straight wins. Kassian should give the Canucks the edge they need in the post season, but he has been far from Marcus Foligno.
So with tonight’s win against Washington, and 5 other games including 2 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, where his father spent parts of 4 seasons, the Buffalo Sabres will really be leaning on the Buffalo native. With Kaleta battling injuries, Kassian gone to Vancouver and Gaustad sent to Nashville, Foligno is the only skilled forward with any size outside of Thomas Vanek and let’s face it, Thomas Vanek isn’t really known for his power-forward-like play. He’s one of the best in the league with the puck, but he’s no Milan Lucic. And even though it’ still very early, the young Marcus Foligno could be that guy.
Here is #82 with his second career goal and his first career Foligno leap paying his respects to dear old dad who like other Sabres fans must be just loving this.
My focus on Marcus Foligno is only to draw out how well he has played. But you can’t argue that he hasn’t been alone. His teammates have also come to play (all except Ville Leino), most Notably, Jason Pominville, Ryan Miller and Drew Stafford have been outstanding. As of tonight, they stand 2 points ahead of the Washington Capitals for 8th with just 5 games to play. Can they get 7th? Look out Ottawa, here they come.
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