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Foligno optimistic for a return in Game 3

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

PITTSBURGH - Nick Foligno will not play in Game 2 tonight at CONSOL Energy Center, but is fairly optimistic that he won’t have to wait much longer to get back in the lineup.

Foligno, who has missed almost three weeks with a lower body injury, has not yet played in these Stanley Cup playoffs, which means the Blue Jackets are missing yet another player with postseason experience - not to mention a guy who scored 18 goals for them this season.

But after skating by himself earlier this week, and then rejoining practice on Thursday and Friday, Foligno feels like he’s on the cusp of a return.

Both he and Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards sounded comfortable saying that Game 3 is a realistic target date.

“It’s kind of disappointing because I felt like I was close yesterday, but I want to play,” Foligno told today. “And in order to play, I have to make sure I’m making the right decision with our staff. It’s tough, you know?

“It sucks because I want to get in there and help the team, but I know the guys are going to do a great job tonight. No worries there.”

Foligno credited the Blue Jackets medical staff for helping him gradually escalate the workload in recent days, making sure each step would produce a positive return and so far, so good. There have been no issues to report and things are progressing well.

“I’ve been lucky,” Foligno said. “I’ve noticed improvement every day, which has been great. There haven’t been any setbacks at all. It’s about getting my conditioning up to where it needs to be - and it’s getting there - but it’s also strength and confidence, too.

“Once all those things come together, I think it’s only going to be a matter of time. Hopefully it’s Monday night.”

And when the series shifts to Columbus for Game 3 at Nationwide Arena, Foligno is confident that the Blue Jackets will be in a good spot. He said that a lot of what they did in Game 1 was encouraging, and a couple of correctable mistakes could prove to be what helps the Jackets get back in the series.

“We did a lot of good things, we got our feet wet and a lot of guys started to understand what playoff hockey is all about,” Foligno said. “I liked our effort, our competitiveness, how we executed and that game could’ve gone either way.”

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