Boston Bruins Nick Foligno Jersey

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BOSTON – Nick Foligno was beyond frustrated when he realized just four periods into his Bruins career that he was about to miss some time. The veteran forward left Boston’s contest against the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 20 with an upper-body injury that was going to sideline him on a week-to-week basis.

But once Foligno got to work during the rehab process, his outlook quickly changed, thanks in large part to the hard work of the Bruins’ medical staff. Their assistance, Foligno said, has him set for a return to the ice ahead of schedule when Boston hosts the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night at TD Garden.

“You go from frustrating, four periods in, to then putting a plan together,” said Foligno. “I’m lucky. We’ve got a great training staff here, strength staff. I was really impressed with the way they got me back probably even ahead of schedule, to be honest with you. That was pretty gratifying in a lot of ways.

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“They just went to work. I think you appreciate that, especially being in the league a long time…they’re doing whatever they can to get you back. I think it made me feel that much better and I’m looking forward to proving them right and getting out there feeling good.”

Foligno said the injury was unrelated to the back problems that hampered him during his time with the Toronto Maple Leaf last spring, calling it “a fluke.” When the 34-year-old returns on Thursday, he could be in a different spot in the lineup than where he started the season with Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy noting that he might look to shuffle up Boston’s middle six.

“Is he a better fit with [Charlie] Coyle and [Taylor] Hall as a net presence because that line’s a little bit stagnant right now,” said Cassidy. “They’re not getting the chances they maybe got earlier, allows [Craig Smith] to play with some different line mates [on the third line with Jake DeBrusk and Erik Haula].

“It’s gonna be one or the other…we’ll sort through that in the morning and talk to the people on those lines to see what they think.”

Video: Foligno talks with the media on Wednesday from WIA

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Cassidy added that in addition to Foligno’s on-ice attributes, the former Columbus captain could also provide more of an intangible boost for a team that has been struggling to put together consistent 60-minute efforts, particularly when it comes to lightening the leadership load on Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

“I just think these are the intangibles of why you sign players, why players have value that you might not see just watching the hockey game or whatever sport. He has those,” said Cassidy. “Bergy and March are our vocal guys for obvious reasons, leaders in the room, best resumes, etc. They have letters on their sweaters for a reason. But they’ve got to play against, a lot of times, really good lines every night, kill penalties, top power play. There’s pressure on them to produce.

“Now to come off the ice and try to get everyone else pulled into the fight, some nights it’s just a lot to ask over 82 games. That’s where Nick Foligno can really help you. He’s been there, he knows the appropriate time to standup, he knows the appropriate time to make something happen on the ice to get the other guys into the fight.”

Foligno added that his focus, first and foremost, will be performing on the ice, which in turn makes it far easier to be vocal on the bench and in the dressing room.

“The vocal stuff comes when you’re doing it the right way and you have the opportunity to speak up,” said Foligno. “That’s the way I like to play. I like to play that style, that physical, high-energy, hard-nosed game. Then your skill comes out because of it. I think I can help. We’re still learning ourselves. I think everyone has to remember it’s 10 games in, a lot of new faces. This team hasn’t really had that many new faces for a lot of years.

“Sometimes there’s that growing pains where we’re trying to understand how we need to play to have success and I’m looking forward to adding to that. That’s what I wanted to do when I came in here from Day 1.

“Unfortunately, I couldn’t be there the next nine [games], but I’m excited to get in there for game 11.”

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Blidh Could Be Back, Too
Cassidy also indicated that Anton Blidh could make his return from an upper-body injury after missing the last seven games. The timing could work out for the Bruins who will be without Trent Frederic for at least Thursday night’s tilt against Edmonton after he suffered an upper-body injury on a heavy open-ice hit from Ottawa’s Josh Brown in the second period.

“No, I think Blidh is close too,” said Cassidy when asked if the club would have to recall a forward from Providence. “He’s a guy that plays left wing and the guy he would slot in best for is Frederic, so if he’s healthy I could see him going in there. That’s kind of his role, fourth-line left winger…I think we’d like to use the guys that are here if they’re healthy, get him back in and see where they’re at.”

Jack Studnicka, meanwhile, will head down to play for Providence on Wednesday night. The 22-year-old played just 11:02 on Tuesday night when he slotted in as the third-line right wing alongside DeBrusk and Haula.

“He still has to play games. He missed a couple last weekend in Prov. He was an extra with us in Toronto,” said Cassidy. “We’ve always said that with those guys…we don’t want them sitting too long. Jack’s in that case. We’ll sort through this weekend if need be with Jack.”

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