BUFFALO – On Nov. 10 in Tampa Bay, in his 14th appearance this season, Sabres winger Marcus Foligno scored his only goal, a pedestrian wrist shot from the left wall Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy mishandled.
For Foligno, the shot was almost as rare as the goal.
“When he took that shot, he came back to the bench, he knew that was his eighth shot,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said this morning inside the First Niagara Center.
If you thought getting rewarded for simply putting the puck on net would encourage Foligno to shoot more often, you’re wrong.
Foligno has a team-low nine shots in 233 minutes, 13 seconds on the ice spread over 19 games this season, meaning he has one shot in the last five games entering tonight’s tilt against the St. Louis Blues.
For some perspective, stay-at-home defenseman Mike Weber has 10 shots in 10 games.
“I got to get back to that, just coming down the wing and firing it,” Foligno said. “That’s the biggest thing. I got to get back to that stuff.”
Why isn’t Foligno, 24, shooting this season? He averaged 1.2 shots a game last season, 1.1 two years ago and 1.2 three years ago. He’s at 0.5 this season.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe some get blocked. I think it’s just a case of being around the net a lot. I think I kind of catch myself sometimes … try to screen the goalie or box out guys while other guys have it.”
True, the 6-foot-3, 226-pound Foligno is one of the Sabres’ best presences down low. But shouldn’t he be able to shoot more than Weber?
“Sometimes you want to shoot, you got to take a better shot,” Foligno said. “You’re not going to take a shot when you’re far, far from the net. No one’s in front. The goalie nowadays are going to stop it more times than not.”
Vasilevskiy couldn’t stop Foligno earlier this month.