Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 30: Nick Foligno #17 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Philadelphia Flyers during the first period of the preseason game at TD Garden on September 30, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Veteran winger Nick Foligno is finally ready to return to action Thursday night. And, to be honest, it doesn’t sound like he’s giving the Bruins much of a choice.

“I’m forcing them to put me in,” Foligno cracked. “I’m just gonna show up.”

And though it was said in a joking manner, it’s probably the truth for the veteran forward, who has missed the last eight games with an upper-body injury and after a strong start with the club. But the recovery process has been a smooth one (Foligno has donned a regular jersey in practice all week), with all credit going to the Black and Gold’s training staff.

“I’m lucky,” the 34-year-old Foligno said. “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. They just went to work. And I think you appreciate that, especially being in the league a long time, [the training staff is] 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.”

The obvious good news within his recovery is that this injury is not related to the back problems he dealt with last year.

There’s also no denying that the Bruins, who are still searching for that elusive 60-minute effort, could use more of what Foligno brings to the table when healthy.

“That’s the way I like to play; I like to play that style, that physical, high-energy, hard-nosed game,” Foligno offered. “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.”

The Bruins are currently unsure where Foligno will line up should he return on Thursday night, whether that’s in his ‘normal’ spot on the right wing with Jake DeBrusk and Erik Haula on Boston’s third line, or with Taylor Hall and Charlie Coyle on the Black and Gold’s second line.

A perfect 5-0-0 at home this year, the B’s best home-ice start in over 30 years will face its toughest test yet Thursday night with a visit from Connor McDavid and the red-hot Oilers.

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Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.