It is a household family name in Buffalo, synonymous with what became a trademark leap. These days, the Foligno surname is a hot topic once again — courtesy of 20-year-old Marcus.
The latest second-generation Foligno — after brother Nick of the Ottawa Senators — has been the talk of western New York since he was called up in early March. In nine games, the Sabres rookie had six goals and 10 points to his credit, as well as a plus/minus rating of plus-7.
"It’s a great start, so I’m pretty excited," Foligno told reporters on Tuesday. "It’s just the confidence I’ve built from the first game being called up here."
Seven of his points came in his first six NHL games, including a point-less big-league debut in December before he was sent back to the minors. Only two other Sabres in franchise history have found similar success in the same starting stretch: Phil Housley (nine points) and Ray Sheppard (seven).
Additionally, his five goals in those six outings puts him in some select company among active NHL players to start so quickly. Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin and Anaheim Ducks winger Teemu Selanne, who did it with the Winnipeg Jets, are the only others to do so. They had seven and five goals, respectively.
"I don’t really see myself with those guys," Foligno said. "They’re tremendous players, guys I looked up when I watched their highlight tapes and saw what they’ve done. The way it’s gone for me lately, we’re just connecting and I’ve been getting pucks to the net. Things are clicking, and we really don’t want to stop."
Foligno has been skating alongside Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford in his current call-up, and the chemistry sparked from the get-go. In its first five games as a unit, the trio produced 11 goals and 14 assists, to go with a plus-21 differential.
Foligno scored his first NHL goal against his brother’s team on March 10. But there was no leap, the youngster unsure whether the marker was actually his. The leap made its appearance four nights later when he netted one against the Colorado Avalanche in front of the Sabres faithful.
His father, Mike, witnessed it firsthand that night.
"It was something to pay tribute to him," Marcus told the Associated Press. "It was huge, and it was emotional, too. I just think it’s awesome that my dad’s created something here in Buffalo that fans really appreciate."
His father had 355 goals and 727 points in 1,018 NHL games. He spent 10 years with the Sabres.
"There’s no better feeling than having people recognize who you are and say how much they loved it when my dad played," Marcus said.
Sabres fans are loving the contribution Marcus Foligno and his line are bringing as they make a spirited run at a playoff spot. So, too, does Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. But he’s also not getting ahead of the youngster’s success.
"Marcus isn’t on an amazing run yet for me," Ruff said to the Associated Press. "He’s put together a good number of games, and there will be a drop-off. There always is. It happens with all young players. But I just have to love the way (the line’s) playing right now, and the hope is they can maintain a pretty good level."