Foligno still looking for goal No. 1

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:55 PM ET

PITTSBURGH Mike Foligno knows what his oldest son is going through. Almost.

He told me he (once) went 17 games, Senators winger Nick Foligno said of the longest slump his father remembers having in a 15-year, 1,018-game NHL career. So I beat him, but its not one Im proud of.

Nick Folignos goal-less drought has reached 22 games he still hasnt scored this season in what stands as the biggest individual disappointment for the Senators thus far. Foligno, who led the team with four goals during the pre-season, had 17 two years ago and nine in an injury-plagued 2009-10.

His goal was to surpass the 20-goal mark this season, and the team was counting on him to do it.

He says simplify your game, get back to doing what you were doing a couple of years ago, or even last year, Nick said of dads advice. (He said) just play the game.

Foligno has played a lot. Hes averaging 14:25 of ice time per game, and hes accumulated more than a half-hour of power-play time.

Yet he only has five assists along with the goose egg under the G column.

Foligno says for all the close calls, all the shots he thought were going in and didnt, hes learned to just laugh off his bad luck.

Its to a point now where youve just got to laugh. If you dont laugh, youre going to cry, he said. I know its not going to last forever.

I obviously care a lot. I want to help this team. So Id be lying if I said I didnt think about it. But I dont think its affecting me in a negative way. I think Im professional enough to know you have to leave it at the rink.

But absolutely, Im trying to figure out ways to score and help this team.

Foligno will be playing on what Cory Clouston termed the third line with Chris Kelly and Chris Neil when the Senators tackle the Penguins Friday, and the coach expects offensive contribution from the unit.

It would be nice to get that one, said Foligno. I feel its coming. When it does, Im sure hopefully more will follow. Its funny how the game goes sometimes.

Foligno gets asked about the slump away from the rink. But in a hockey market like Ottawa, he expects that.

Its blown up a little more in this kind of scenario, he said. Its part of the job, its part of where you live. Id rather have people care about it than not care about it at all.

People are going to talk about it and ask questions, but I believe in myself. I think thats the biggest thing. You need to have self-confidence and know that youre going to go out there and do a good job, whether its on the scoreboard or just playing good hockey.

Keep his on-ice struggles from becoming all-consuming is a challenge he can handle.

Theres so many other things in life. Im getting married, so thats a distraction on its own ... kind of a nice one, he said. Thats where you have to be professional about it and have that divide. Im learning, obviously. When youre not contributing the way you want, youre thinking about it. I cant let it eat me up.

Things will turn themselves around. They always do.

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


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