Sens ask Foligno, Shannon to step up

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

PITTSBURGH — One Top 4 defenceman and now a second Top 6 forward — the injury bug is eating its way through the Senators lineup.

Starting at the top.

Ottawa’s depth is being put to the test again, as Nick Foligno moves up to the second line and Ryan Shannon comes down from the press box in the wake of Milan Michalek’s season-ending ACL tear.

Just as Erik Karlsson has more than made up for the loss of Filip Kuba offensively and Matt Cullen has smoothy fit into the spot left vacated by Alex Kovalev’s knee injury, Foligno is expected to handle the added responsibility.

In fact, the worse thing about the 22-year old’s promotion to a line with Mike Fisher and Cullen could be that it breaks up a fourth line (Foligno-Jesse Winchester-Zack Smith), which provided some good shifts in Game 1.

“It hurts, obviously,” Foligno said of losing Michalek. “He’s so good in all areas of the game, it’s tough to lose a guy like him. But we’ve done it, time and time again. Guys have stepped in when needed. Hopefully, I can do the same.

“I want to come in and help the team win. That’s why I’m on this team and I want to do a good job for them. I feel ready. I feel I can do those things that he did, and just try to help those guys on that line.”

A hurting season

Foligno’s third NHL season was interrupted a couple of times by injury. He wound up playing 61 games, scoring nine goals and 17 assists, but only had three points in a 13-game finish that followed a 13-game absence with a broken leg.

“I feel it’s coming,” he said of his game. “I approached the playoffs on a clean slate. It’s tough coming back from injury, but I know what I’m capable of. I said it all along, I just wanted to stick with it. I feel I’m working hard and things are on the upswing.”

Being demoted to the fourth line, he took a positive approach.

“I got back to getting the puck in deep and working hard down low. Now, I feel a little more confident. There are still areas I need to improve, but I feel good about my game.”

Shannon has been a healthy scratch for nine of the team’s last 11 games.

“It’s my opportunity to play solid minutes and contribute to the team,” said Shannon, who will play with Winchester and Smith. “You want to stay away from trying to press and get on the board right away. Just play a solid game, reduce turnovers and stick to the structure.”

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos