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Offensive karma comes full circle for Foligno

Rugged winger threatening career bests in several offensive categories after torrid weekend against Jets, Flames

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

ST. PAUL -- Marcus Foligno is best known for his willingness to bang bodies and drop the mitts than he is for scoring goals.

Which makes it all the more fun for both he and his teammates when the Wild's rangy winger is riding an offensive hot streak like he is right now.

Foligno scored twice in the first period on Sunday in Minnesota's 5-4 shootout loss to the Calgary Flames at Xcel Energy Center.

This after he scored a goal and had an assist in the Wild's 3-2 overtime win against the Winnipeg Jets just over 24 hours earlier. 

With his three-goal outburst over the weekend, Foligno now has seven on the season, matching his total from all of last season, a year when he played in all 82 games. 

Considering he's missed 10 games already this season makes Foligno's total even more impressive.

Video: Locker room postgame vs Calgary

"It's somewhat always been there, but I think when you do have the confidence that I feel like I have right now, you're just taking a split second longer to look up and find some areas to shoot at and you're feeling a lot more confident with the puck on your stick," Foligno said. "Right now I have a lot of confidence, playing with [Luke] Kunin and [Joel Eriksson] Ek has been good and just something you can't let off the gas pedal. 

"You want to keep playing, keep working. You want to stay as a line that can contribute like this. We're third line and we're putting up points and that's something you need going forward."

Foligno's increased production has come with increased minutes and a larger role. A recent promotion to the third line has also allowed him to gain chemistry with Kunin and Eriksson Ek. Foligno and Ek were together for a bulk of last season as well, so there is a natural fit there.

And if it seems like Foligno is shooting more, it's because he is. After putting four more shots on goal on Sunday, Foligno has 49 in 33 games, an average of 1.48 shots per game. 

That's his highest number since a 14-game cup of coffee as a rookie in 2011-12, when Foligno stormed onto the scene with six goals and 13 points. 

Video: CGY@MIN: Foligno picks the corner on Rittich

That willingness to fire away comes with increased confidence that the puck is going to find its way past the goaltender. 

If Foligno maintains his shots-per-game average and stays healthy the rest of the way, Foligno will put more than 100 shots on goal for the first time in his career, despite playing in what would be only 72 games. 

"I feel confident, like I'm not trying to kind've chip it in or get away from the boards or maybe just get it and give it to someone else," Foligno said. "I want the puck and when you have confidence like that, and you want the puck, good things are going to happen."

With one more goal, Foligno will reach eight, the number he scored with the Wild two years ago. The year before that, he tallied 13 in his final season with Buffalo, which was a career best.

When he arrived in Minnesota via trade the following summer, Foligno believed he had 15-goal upside to his game. Now, he's showing why.

Video: CGY@MIN: Foligno sneaks loose puck past Rittich

"I feel like I've been working on my game. I think practice has been doing stuff like that, just skill stuff and being a little bit better with those things," Foligno said. "I feel like I'm back in that early stage of my career. I feel good. My conditioning's there and I think hands and things like that, you can always improve on. 

"It takes awhile to figure out this game and the way the style of play is, to find the soft areas and put yourself in good scoring positions, so you can get those goals. I think I'm a better player when I'm shooting the puck and when you shoot the puck, good things happen. Right now it's working."

One area where Foligno has made noticeable strides since his arrival has been in his vocal leadership inside the dressing room. Over the past year, he's felt more comfortable speaking his mind in a dressing room filled with former captains, alternate captains and veteran leaders. 

Add in his willingness to do a lot of the dirty work on the ice, it gives teammates on the bench a big lift when a beloved player like Foligno gets rewarded on the scoresheet.

Video: Bruce Boudreau postgame vs Calgary

"He's feeling it," said Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. "It's good to see those guys that go out every night and work hard get rewarded. We're a tough team when those guys are going, when they're forechecking, when they're making plays. It's a huge bonus when they're contributing offensively."

It's also nice for a coach, who has grown to trust and appreciate Foligno's game over the past couple of seasons. He just hopes it continues.

"He's earned it," Boudreau said. "He works hard. He's a great team player. He does all the right things as far as off the ice, on the ice, competing in practice, showing up for everything. So you really like to see those guys succeed and get breaks."


Postgame Hat Trick: Flames 5, Wild 4 (SO)

Video: MIN Recap: Foligno scores twice in 5-4 SO loss

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