Battalion Breakdown is a closer look at the Blue Jackets' past season on a player-by-player basis. Today, BlueJackets.com continues the series by looking at Nick Foligno's season and how it impacted Columbus in the 2018-19 campaign.
Birth date: Oct. 13, 1987
Height/Weight: 6-0, 202
Stats (Games, G-A-P, point shares): 73 GP, 17-18-35, 3.6 PS
Contract: Signed through the 2020-21 season
While Battalion Breakdown is designed to do just that -- break down each player's contributions to the team during the season -- it feels like any discussion of Nick Foligno's campaign has to come with two asterisks.
First, it was a busy campaign for the Blue Jackets, and we don't just mean with travel and games. With the distraction in the air from the start of training camp regarding the uncertain contract statuses of Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky, Foligno's leadership would be instrumental in however the Blue Jackets' season was destined to turn out.
Secondly, there were the two leaves of absences taken by Foligno during the season because of health issues faced by his children. First, eldest daughter Milana had to undergo surgery to replace a heart valve related to the congenital heart defect she's faced since birth, causing Foligno to first step away from the team for a game when she first got sick and then to miss four games for the actual surgery itself.
Then, in March, Foligno missed the entire four-game road swing to Boston, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver after his youngest, son Hudson, developed a case of pneumonia so bad that at one point his lung collapsed.
It's tough enough to see any father have to deal with such worries related to his young children, but it appeared doubly difficult for a CBJ team that has come to lean on the voice -- and decency -- of Foligno so much through the years.
Yet through it all, the captain persevered, as did his team.
Entering the season: The Foligno that leads by voice and example, not to mention through physical play and toughness, was always there. But the veteran also wanted to provide more offense for the Blue Jackets as he entered his 12th NHL season.
No one expected the 31-goal, 73-point season that made him a face of the franchise in 2014-15 to repeat itself, but Foligno saw his stat line go from 26-25-51 during the record-breaking 2016-17 campaign to 15-18-33 in 2017-18. That came as he was also moved to center from wing to bolster the Blue Jackets' depth down the middle, and he hoped a return to the wing would add more offense to his game
What happened: Foligno by and large was Foligno during the 2018-19 season, but with some ticks upward in his scoring statistics from the year before.
His gritty style of play didn't change, and Foligno wasn't afraid to drop the gloves when needed. But he did contribute more on offense, going from 15 goals to 17 and 33 points to 35. He also won 56.6 percent of his faceoffs compared to 45.9, went from plus-1 to plus-12, and saw his shooting percentage notch upward from 10.9 to 12.1. In the postseason, Foligno scored on a breakaway in Game 1 vs. Tampa Bay, kick-starting the CBJ rally.
It wasn't quite an offensive explosion, but Foligno was able to accomplish those slightly improved offensive numbers despite a defensive zone starting percentage of 61.9, one of the tops on the team. He was able to chip on at times on the power play as well with a pair of goals, but a lot of his 5-on-5 time was spent playing a heavy role with such players as Boone Jenner and Josh Anderson, a trio that head coach John Tortorella often seemed to come back to when the Blue Jackets needed a reminder that effort had to come before skill when it came to producing.
One of the memorable moments of the campaign came as Foligno celebrated his 800th career contest. In a Dec. 17 campaign vs. Vegas at home, Foligno took to the ice for the 800th time, but the game remained scoreless through two periods. But early in the third, Foligno got to the front of the net and whacked a rebound past Malcolm Subban for the only goal of the game -- and a fitting way to celebrate a career milestone for the CBJ captain.
Video: VGK@CBJ: Foligno buries rebound to open the scoring
By the Numbers
175: Foligno delivered 175 hits on the season, second on the team behind Josh Anderson (214), and it allowed him to pass the 1,000-hit threshold in his NHL career.
4: Foligno dropped the gloves four times this season, leading the Blue Jackets in fighting majors on the season.
506: One year after taking 741 faceoffs, Foligno took just 235 on the season, a difference of 506 that shows he spent far less time at center than at wing in 2018-19.