Marcus Foligno Will Do Whatever, Disrespect Whoever, it Takes to Win

AP Photo: Paul Beaty

The Minnesota Wild beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 on Monday night, in a game they had to win in order to keep their Central Division championship dreams alive. The boxscore won’t surprise anyone. The Wild beat a tanking Hawks team. Kaprizov was given an off-night so, naturally, Boldy scored a goal and assisted on another. Johansson potted two. Business as usual, right?

Miracle goal reversal

Well, not quite. For 2.5 periods last night, the Blackhawks were better than the Wild. Chicago carried a 2-1 lead into the 14-minute mark of the third period and, just before that, the game looked all but over when Jonathon Toews scored a 6-on-5 goal while the Hawks played keep-away on a delayed penalty call against the Wild. That made the score 3-1 with just over half a period left to play.

But then, a miracle happened. After further review, it was ruled that John Merrill had gained possession of the puck just before the goal was scored. So instead of a 2-goal lead, the puck was ruled dead at the moment Merrill “got control of the puck” in the crease and Chicago was awarded a power play.

Foligno starts fight at worst perfect time

The Wild killed the penalty and the game carried on at 2-1. But even while on a power play of their own, Marcus Foligno didn’t see the game turning in the Wild’s favor. Thus, drastic measures needed to be taken. With 7:45 remaining in the game, he challenged Andreas Englund to a fight.

It was a worthy matchup of heavyweights and Foligno took his own fair share of punishment. The blood flowing freely down from his nostrils and into his mouth gave that much away. But Marcus, as he oftentimes does, came away victorious.

And for his efforts, the 12-year veteran proceeded to rip Englund’s helmet off. He shook it up in the air with his right hand and screamed at his own bench, “I’ve got his head!”, with a referee hanging off of his left arm.

It was as if, in that moment, Marcus Foligno had gone completely insane. Ripping a helmet off another player is an automatic penalty and his team was on a power play. It could have been their best chance at tying the game before time expired.

But Englund had accused Foligno of a dirty hit earlier in the period and the Wild bruiser and team leader wasn’t going to skip an opportunity to light a fire under his team’s ass. Power play or penalty kill, the Wild clearly needed something to get them going and, if that meant dropping his gloves and putting on his crazy-person face, then that was a price he was more than willing to pay.

Hockey is a funny game…

And you know what… hockey is a funny game. Less than two minutes later, with the Blackhawks on a power play created by Foligno’s psychotic episode, the other Marcus (Johnansson) scored a short-handed goal on a 2-1 Wild breakaway. Tie game.

And Johansson wasn’t done. Less than three minutes later, the trade deadline acquisition took a beautifully placed pass from Matt Boldy and paid off Bill Guerin’s GM chops again, giving the Wild a 3-2 lead that was quickly made 4-2 by a Gustav Nyquist empty-netter.

And all of this stemmed from what first appeared to be an immature act by a veteran player, in one of the biggest moments of a semi-important game. Even if you accept professional hockey players fist fighting each other as part of the game, the playoff implications this could have had, should Foligno have gotten hurt are, made it look downright stupid. Until, the Wild scored a shorty to tie the game, then won it right after.

Is Marcus Foligno losing his marbles?

So, is Marcus Foligno going crazy or is his leadership just on a level we can’t possibly comprehend? It’s hard to say, but whatever it is, he’s certainly creating enemies along the way. There’s no way Andreas Englund is buying a Corona for Foligno, should they come across each other in Cancun over the offseason.

The same can be said for Englund’s teammate and fellow defenseman, Connor Murphy, who was absolutely disgraced by Foligno when these two teams played a couple of weeks ago. Most of the time, one testosterone-filled heterosexual male doesn’t do something like this to another testosterone-filled heterosexual male, without serious consequences…

But guess what, hockey is a funny game. I don’t know what has gotten into Marcus Foligno but, in both instances above, the Wild came out victorious. Does that mean anything, given how terrible the Chicago Blackhawks are this season? I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Another big game tonight

Until then, maybe we’ll get some more of it tonight when the Wild play against the Winnipeg Jets in game 81 of 82 this season. The Jets are fighting for their playoff lives. Minnesota’s come-from-behind victory last night keeps them two points behind both Colorado and Dallas in the Central Division. The Avs have one game in-hand on both the Wild and Stars.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan