Thursday night against the Rangers, I scored my first goal in a while and it turned out to be a big one for us. I was just happy to help the team get a win. That's my job and it's something I take pride in, so it was nice to get that. I thought Jimmy (O'Brien) made a great play on the goal. It was good to get the lead for the guys and it turned out to be the game-winner.
As a player, when you're not scoring goals, you start to wonder what you're doing different and sometimes, that's the difference between having confidence and not having confidence. You start to doubt yourself and that's the biggest thing. But you've got to continue to play hard and play well. Sure, it does weigh on the back of your mind, but you know what, that's part of being a pro. It's the mental part of the game and the guys who can get that under control are the ones who continue to have success. It's just something I had to battle through, but it was good to get that one and hopefully, it'll continue for the confidence.
|Nick Foligno (centre) scored an important goal for the Sens in their win over the Rangers on Thursday. It proved to be the game-winner and ended a personal scoring drought (Jana Chitylova/Freestyle Photography/OSHC).
Guys like Alfie, Spez, Milo and Erik have done a great job for us offensively all season, and we've done a real good job behind them in supporting them. We understand that teams, especially in the playoffs, are going to key on those guys. So the rest of us have to be able to help them out and make space for them, so when they do get opportunities, they're going to get better chances to help the team win. We just have to support them as much as possible and be a real good attack as a group.
I feel like we've got real balance on our team that way. We're getting scoring from our defence and our forwards. It's a real good sign when everyone is chipping in and it makes our team more dangerous. Teams don't know who to key on and that's been a big part of our success. We're a pretty deep team that works pretty hard. I don't think people would have expected that out of us at the beginning of the year, but we believe in each other in this room and it's amazing how many good things can happen when you do that.
A few weeks back, I spent an hour working as a salesman at the Sport Chek out here in Kanata. I really enjoyed it and it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. It's about connecting with the people who come into the store, which is something I learned. You ask them how their day is going and things like that. It was interesting. It was a whole new world for me — it's something I've never been a part of, even when I was younger. But I thought it was a lot of fun and I had a great time with it. I have to really thank Sport Chek for allowing me to do that with them. I think everybody who was involved enjoyed it.
My name was 'Frank' while I was there. People did recognize me and that was the hard part, telling them that I wasn't Nick Foligno from the Senators. But there were some people who didn't know who I was and that was pretty funny. But there were some who did and that's pretty flattering. It shows people care about you and what you do, and it showed how avid the hockey fans are here in Ottawa. It was a nice feeling.
I felt bad about having to hide who I am, especially when one kid asked me for the autograph. I signed it 'Frank' and he was looking at me kind of funny. I felt pretty bad, but it was all in fun. I ended up signing one for him with me real name right after I was done. The whole experience was fun, but it was definitely hard to lie to people about my identity and having to play innocent like that.
If you ask me if retail is something I'd like to do for a living someday, I'll tell you that I'm definitely enjoying hockey way more than anything else right now. Hopefully, that lasts for a long, long time and I don't have to think about doing anything else. But I really did enjoy that hour I had playing salesman at Sport Chek.
Our team held its annual ‘Father’s Trip’ earlier this week and it was a great time for both me and my dad (Fred), who got to see how the mechanics of an NHL road trip work for the first time. To actually see that was a big deal for him because as a parent, he’s always asking about that sort of thing and parents are always intrigued by it. They’re always interested in your life and for them to have a mental picture now is pretty special.
Before our game against Tampa Bay on Tuesday, the coaches invited all the dads into our dressing room to see our pre-game routine. Unfortunately, my dad wasn’t there because he went to an Andrea Bocelli concert that night. It was something I’d planned to send him to three weeks before the Father’s Trip was organized. My mom’s birthday is Valentine’s Day and the concert happened to fall on Valentine’s Day, so that’s where they were that night (my mom didn’t stay for any of the games).
My dad was a little disappointed that he missed that opportunity, but I know the other dads talked to him about how special it was. As he said, ‘I never know what the coach is saying to you guys’ or ‘I never know what the (pre-game routine) is like’ or what you’re doing at this time before the game. It’s nice now that he has a better feel for all of that.
The best part of the trip for me was getting to spend some time with my dad, which doesn’t happen much during the season. We were chatting on the flight down and we were able to talk when we all went out to golf on Sunday. That night, we went to Ocean Prime for dinner, so we were able to chat a lot then, too, and we had breakfast together the next day. The whole trip was a lot of fun and I think he really enjoyed it. Some of his old friends from back when he was going to school in Boston came down to see him the second night we were there. It was really special for him because he got to include a lot of different things on the trip.
It’s been a long time since my dad and I had that kind of experience together. It would have been when I was 13 or 14 years old and the parents still rode on the bus. It’s been a long time for him and again, when you’re not used to being around it — it’s probably been 12 years since he’s been around it — you don’t know what’s going on and he’s always curious about how things work. He was pretty impressed, but I’d say he was also a little jealous of how well we get treated.
Our team seems to win every time we have the dads with us and it’s something that’s hard to explain. Maybe it’s because you still have that child in you and you want to impress your dad. Back then, if you played a bad game, you don’t want to go back in the car because you’re going to hear the same thing ... ‘do you really want to play this game, because you weren’t trying too hard out there.’ Maybe it just takes us back to those old days, when you really want to impress your dad. Maybe that’s it.
We were just so happy for him. He's a true professional and somebody we all look up to in the room. To see him have that night for himself ... he's worked so hard. He's a guy who kind of goes under the radar because he's not the flashiest player, but he's so steady and such a big part of our team. To see him have the offensive gift was really nice, and to have his family around was pretty special for him.
|Nick Foligno and his Senators teammates were thrilled to see the way Chris Phillips' 1,000th game played out (Claus Andersen/Getty Images).
We were trying to hard to get Philly a hat trick. It would have been awesome to see that. It would have been so awesome. But I think he was still happy with two goals. It was pretty funny. When he came into (a timeout) and saw us drawing up a play, he said "you better be getting the puck to me." We all started laughing when he said that. I think it broke the nerves a little bit, because it was a close game and we were able to hold on and win it.
This week, we've had the chance to play against a couple of former teammates — Brian Elliott, who's now with St. Louis, and Mike Fisher, who's with Nashville, of course — and it's special when you get to do that. They're guys you wish were still on your team and great players. We were really happy to see both Els and Fish. They're both really good friends of mine and to see them doing well where they are now is nice to see. But when you get on the ice, all bets are off and they become the enemy pretty quick.
Hockey is such a close family and everyone gets to know each other. We met up with Els for dinner the night before we played the Blues and the same thing with Mike. It's just nice to see how they're doing and how their families are. You miss out on that opportunity to talk to them when they're not in the room every day and it's just nice to catch up, see how they're doing and how they're enjoying where they are now. You reminisce and tell old stories, and it's just nice to touch base with them again.
We held our annual Sens Skills competition earlier this week and it's something we all look forward to each year. I think all the guys enjoy it. You get to showcase your skills and have fun with it and not take it too seriously — although some guys do. It's a great day, it's fun for the fans and we have a lot of fun with it.
When you get into the heat of it, when you're skating around the rink as fast as you can, or you're doing the relay against your buddy or shooting, it's fun but you're also trying to show your best. We enjoy the healthy competition between each other and there's bragging rights in the room afterward. It all makes it fun for everybody.
|Sens Skills is a 'great day' for Nick Foligno and his teammates, who mix fun with healthy competition (Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photography/OSHC).|
I didn't actually get to see my family over the Christmas break, so hopefully they'll come to Ottawa and visit in the New Year while we're here. That'll be nice. While I missed getting a chance to spend the holiday weekend wth them this year, I got a nice early Christmas present the week before when Marcus got called up by the Sabres and played his first NHL game against me here in Ottawa. I got to see all my family that day, so I was lucky that way.
Marcus was thrilled to get his first chance to play in the NHL. It was a real good taste for him of what things could be and now he knows if you continue to work hard, you could be there sooner rather than later. I thought he did really well for his first game. It was a neat thing for him to experience and now he knows how hard he has to work. I don't think it's going to be too long before he's in the NHL. He's a real good player and Buffalo could use a guy like him.
It is hard having such a short period of time off over the holidays. You're almost looking at the clock the whole time because you realize that you have to leave in a day or two. But you know what, you try to enjoy it as much as possible and it's so great to be around family and friends. All the guys really appreciate that we get those two days off to go home and see family. It's a real good thing and you almost recharge the batteries and get ready for this big push the rest of the way.
It's kind of cool that we're going to finish out the year in Buffalo. It's too bad we're not staying over. It's a neat little thing because Buffalo is where I was born and there's a lot of memories there. It'll be really neat to ring in the New Year there and, hopefully, my brother is called back up for that game. That would make it even better.
We’ve got a short Christmas break approaching at the end of this week and right now, guys are just making sure we play well up until those two days off. A lot of people use it as a benchmark. You’re almost halfway through the season and after you come back from Christmas holidays, you get that part of it out of your system. Everyone wants to spend time with their family and everyone wants to enjoy the holidays. So I think everyone just wants to make sure they’re playing well and have a good record going into the so-called second half of the season.
|Our Christmas break is short, but we try to make the most of it by spending time with family (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
It’s important to watch what you eat over the holidays, but you can always indulge yourself. I’m a big believer in it’s not about the wrong foods, it’s the wrong amounts. You can have your turkey and your stuffing and your fixins at Christmas dinner, but you can’t gorge yourself on it. That’s the biggest thing.
This is my first full season in the NHL and for me, I feel like it’s been so far, so good. There’s been some ups, there’s been some downs. It’s certainly a lot different than the AHL life. One of the biggest adjustments I’ve found was you don’t get too much of a mental break from it, whereas in the AHL, you play a lot of three games in three nights, but then you still get those four days off to practice.
When you’re at practice, you’re just there to work and you can kind of not worry about the games. The games are high stress and we’re travelling a lot more, so it’s definitely been an adjustment that way. But it’s been a blast for me. I’ve been able to play with great players and among the best players in the world, so it’s been a wonderful experience.
The AHL schedule is still a grind and it’s still tough in its own way. If I had to choose between the NHL and the AHL, I’d obviously choose the NHL for many reasons. But I guess the biggest one is to be able to play at this level. I’ve always wanted to do it and it’s always been a dream. And now it’s coming true.
It's great to finally be at home again after such a long stretch of road games and I think I can say all the guys are happy to be back. We were proud of ourselves with the way we played on the road, and we really made that push to have a good trip. We knew how crucial those points would be and how much they can help us later on. The guys really stepped up and played well on the road over the past few weeks, and now we've got to make sure we make the best of this upcoming homestand as well.
|Nick Foligno is enjoying both team and individual success (Getty Images).
I've been happy with game lately. It's about confidence and understanding the kind of player I need to be. It just comes with maturity and I'm pretty comfortable with the guys I've been playing with lately. I'm pretty fortunate to have such great linemates (Daniel Alfredsson and Milan Michalek) and we've been able to click and produce, so that's been good. I'm enjoying it and while it's been a little bit different being at centre, I'm liking that as well. The coaching staff has also been outstanding with us, too. You're seeing all the guys step up and play well, and it's a testament to them that they've been able to get the best out of us.
I want to be a big player on this team and I've said that before. It's just a matter of me going out there and continuing to play the way I know I can, and making sure I'm always working hard and working on both sides of the puck. When you play with such great players, you're bound to have some good nights. I've just got to continue to work and continue to have a lot of fun. I think that's the biggest thing this year. I'm really enjoying myself and I think all the guys feel the same way.
Ask anyone on the team, and they'll tell you the coaches have made it such a great environment for everyone and we see such potential in this room. There's such a great group of guys in here and we're really having fun together. We're having fun coming to the rink and working hard to get better as a team. Any time you've have that mixture of things going on, it can only be great for your organization.
We’re in Buffalo to start a five-game road trip that will eventually take us all the way across Western Canada. I certainly haven’t gone through a road trip like this in my life and it’s going to be a new experience for me. I’m going to be relying on the veteran guys to know where to go in those cities and to get used to the time changes. We’re crossing three time zones, so that will be a challenge in itself. But it’ll be a lot of fun. I’ve got family in a lot of those cities, too, so it’ll be nice to see them as well.
|Senators forward Colin Greening says the five-game road trip that begins tonight in Buffalo can provide a good bonding experience (Getty Images).
If you look at our schedule for this trip, we’ve got a few days where we’d have a chance to see some of the sights. But it really depends on your situation. There might be guys who are banged up who just want a chance to rest, and there might be others who have family members they want to see. But I think there is an opportunity there for guys to see as much or as little as they want when we’re away.
For us, this trip can be provide an opportunity for a good bonding experience. When you’re at home, a lot of guys have families here and they’re usually with them when they’re away from the rink. But when you’re on the road for a long time, you’re eating dinner together all the time and you learn little tidbits and things about people that you didn’t know before. And I think that helps you get to know a person a little bit better and if you feel more comfortable with a person off the ice, it can help you on the ice.
We’ve lost a few close games lately, but we try to look at it in a positive way. We’re playing the right way, but there’s just some bad mistakes that we need to correct. That’s kind of a cliche answer, but that in a nutshell is what’s been happening. Thursday night against the Rangers, we had too many turnovers and it came back to bite us. It’s just little things like that. An old coach of mine used to say ‘if you can make less mistakes than the other team, you’ll probably end up winning the game.’ So maybe we should take that mentality.
All these one-goal games we’ve been playing certainly helps keep you on your toes. You’ve got to make sure you have a sharp mind, and that’s good experience for us, especially with a young team. In those tight moments in the third period, whether you’re tied, you’re up by a goal or down by a goal, you’ve got make sure you’re making the right decisions. These are all experiences you have to go through if you want to learn how to win as a team.
Winning has been a lot of fun for us lately and it’s been real exciting the way we’ve been doing it. You know what, we’d like to win them in earlier fashion, but we’re learning how to win and that’s the biggest thing for this team. We’re a young team and to get the experience of winning is so big, as is the confidence that comes along with it. The guys are excited about winning, although we would like to close out these games a little earlier. But we’ve been happy with the outcome lately and we’ve just got to continue to play hard from whistle to whistle.
The way we’ve been able to win right at the end just shows the character of this team and the smarts we have as a group. We realized we didn’t like the direction we were going in after those two tough losses at home (against Colorado and Philadelphia). We were able to turn it around with a lot of hard work. The coaches worked us hard and really made us understand that this is the way we need to play to win. It’s showing now, and what they’re saying is obviously working. We’re all buying in and that’s a big part of it. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to the leaders and the young guys on the team. We’re all coming together as a team and that’s a big part of our success right now.
We all said our goodbyes to Mika Zibanejad the other day and it was a tough thing. He’s a great kid and he did really well when he was here. He’s going to be a real good player and he’s going to be fun to play with for a long time. But I think this was best for Mika in the sense of he just didn’t feel ready himself. One more year away from the NHL never hurts anybody. He’ll still be a young kid coming in next year. Being back in Sweden this season will be really good for him and we’ll be excited to have him back here next year.
I remember my rookie season here, when they sent me down to Binghamton for the first time. It’s a big shock, especially with the way you’re treated up here. It’s not that you’re not treated well down there, but it’s just a different atmosphere, where it’s bus rides instead of planes and packing your own (equipment) bag. You kind of get the royal treatment up here, so it’s kind of a humbling reality check. I really enjoyed my time down there in Binghamton, though. It really taught me about the player I needed to be and I learned a lot about my game. It’s tough, but you’ve got to go down there with a real good attitude and remember that you’re down there to learn and get back up here as quick as you can. I think I did that for the most part and looking back now, I’m really happy that I spent some time down there and learned a little more about myself.
Sure, you’re disappointed at first when you get news like that, but I actually got to drive down there. I was by myself and I got to think about a lot of things for the four or five hours it takes to get there. You think about your game and what you need to do. It was a really good group of guys down there and they really help you. If you go down there with the attitude that you’re going to work on your game and get back up here, anything can happen. Obviously, you’re disappointed at first, but you have to get over that and get ready to work. The AHL is a tough league and you get a wakeup call about that when you get down there. It’s not like the NHL but in some ways, it’s a lot tougher and it’s a real physical league. It really opens your eyes about what you need to work on.
(On the occasion of Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night, Senators forward Nick Foligno shares his thoughts about the disease that took his mother, Janis, at age 47 in July 2009. Foligno and his wife, Janelle, toured Ottawa’s new Cancer Survivorship Centre on the weekend and work on behalf of the Janis Foligno Foundation, which has been established in their hometown of Sudbury, Ont.).
Ever since being affected by cancer with my mom and, being in the position that I’m in, I try to help out as best I can in the fight against this disease. The Cancer Survivorship Centre is really an amazing place. The people that are running it are the real heroes and it’s just nice to go over there and recognize them and see what they’re doing.
|Senators forward Nick Foligno and his wife, Janelle, toured Ottawa's new Cancer Survivorship Centre on the weekend (Ottawa Senators Hockey Club).|
My wife, Janelle, and I are going to be keeping an eye on it and seeing how it’s going. If they need me for anything, I’d be happy to help out, but I think they have it pretty well set there. They have a good staff in place and the people running it are amazing. Janelle and I couldn’t have been happier to go there and see it first hand.
Cancer is a disease that gives you a feeling of helplessness and you don’t really know how to go about dealing with it. It’s such a scary thing for so many people that they feel doomed right away. But if you can start putting words out there like ‘survivorship’ and ‘fighting it’ instead of ‘comfort,’ that brings a positive attitude and people start to think it’s something they can beat. That’s the most important thing. We need to get away from making people comfortable and trying to cope with it and start helping people beat it. That’s what I hope this survivorship centre is going to do.
We’ve started the Janis Foligno Foundation back in Sudbury and it’s slowly getting going. The biggest thing we wanted was to keep it home grown, so to speak, and help people in Sudbury. We have such a great cancer centre there and, hopefully, over a few years, we can start growing it into Ottawa or wherever we may be. But right now, we’re just really focusing on trying to help as many people as we can in Sudbury. So far, it’s been really good and, hopefully, we can continue that for a long time.
Hockey Fights Cancer is night that has special meaning to me. I’m sure I’m not the only one affected by cancer within our team or our entire organization. It’s unfortunate when everyone has a story, but when you bring it out in this kind of an atmosphere, everyone can be positive and support one another for a night. I think it’s a really great thing the NHL has done and this team has done to rally around it. It’s only going to be a positive thing for the community and the people involved.
It’s been a bit of an inconsistent start to our season so far, but everything is a learning process for us right now. The biggest thing is to remember that we are a young team. For all those people who are worrying about us, just remember it’s only four games into the season and we’ve got 78 more to go. We’re working on learning the systems right and communication with each other. This is not a group of guys that’s been together for a number of years. This is a new team and this is a process. I think we’ve got a lot of talent on this team and we showed against Minnesota that when we play well, good things happen and we’ll get rewarded for it. I think we’re fine
|Colin Greening knows an NHL season isn't a sprint, it's a marathon, and he's keeping the team's start in perspective (Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images).
My parents were in town for that game and it was a good game for them to see. It was back and forth and we ended up winning in a shootout, so you couldn’t have asked for more. For them, it was also a real treat to see me score a goal as well. So I certainly appreciated them coming and I know they really enjoyed it.
There’s a few times during that game, I remembered that my parents were here watching me. For the most part you try not to dwell on it because if you’re thinking, ‘oh my goodness, my parents are here, I’ve got to play well,’ then you grip the stick too hard and you start making rash decisions. That can end up being more of a detriment than anything. They were at a lot of my games in college, so I’m used to them coming to see me play.
Now that I’m in the NHL, it’s much easier for them to keep track of how I’m doing. They can figure out how much ice time I’m getting and all those little stats. Trust me, they tell me about it, but they take a vested interest in my hockey career. For my family, this is something new. We’ve never had anyone make it to the professional ranks and I’m very thankful that I have a family that supports me so much. They’re always trying to get to my games. Not only my immediate family, but cousins, uncles and aunts ... they’re all very supportive and that’s really important, so I think I’m really lucky in that respect.
Both my parents are very realistic people. They always try to keep me level headed and remind me not to let the highs get too high and the lows get too low. For example, Thursday night, we had a tough game against Colorado. When I talked to my parents afterward, they basically said that happens, it’s part of life. Stuff like that is just a bump in the road and what can you do besides learn from it and move on. That’s just good advice and it reminds me not to dwell on things too much. It’s water under the bridge now.