Liam Foudy will be in the lineup for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference qualifying round, per Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella.
After an impressive performance in a 4-1 win in the exhibition game over the Boston Bruins, Tortorella was effusive in his praise for Foudy but admitted he wasn't sure exactly where he'll slot.
#CBJ John Tortorella made it clear tonight post-game that rookie Liam Foudy will be in the lineup vs. #LeafsForever in Sundays Game 1.— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) July 31, 2020
The thing i like about Foods is hes not afraid. Hes not afraid to make a play. A very intelligent player. Hell be in our lineup."
It's notable that Foudy, 20, cracked a lineup that hasn't been this healthy since the pre-season about a year ago. Aside from Josh Anderson, the entire roster is available for game action.
Even so, Foudy's speed gives Tortorella and his staff an element they feel they'll need in spades against a dynamically gifted Toronto offense. Said Tortorella during training camp:
"I want to give him every opportunity to make this team ... because of his speed. We're playing a very fast hockey club. We need to get as much speed into our lineup as we possibly can."
Foudy edged out Nathan Gerbe, Devin Shore, Stefan Matteau, and Kevin Stenlund for playing time in Game 1. Despite having just two NHL regular-season games under his belt, the coaching staff appears confident that the versatile Foudy will help them in their match-ups.
This all can change, of course, but the fact that the least experienced player is getting the nod against Toronto is certainly notable.
We won't speculate on where Tortorella will play Foudy, but on Thursday night's exhibition, he played right-wing on the third line alongside Gus Nyquist and Boone Jenner. Foudy made an impact right away, just missing on a glorious scoring chance before notching an assist in the very same shift.
What a whirlwind of a year for Foudy, who was terrorizing the OHL for his London Knights before the season was canceled due to COVID-19. Training in his native Ontario, he eventually made his way to Columbus for Phase 2 workouts at Nationwide Arena. A month later, he returns to Ontario to take on his hometown team.
If Foudy can continue to showcase his game as he has during camp and in the exhibition, it will be difficult for Tortorella to take him out of the lineup.
But for now, the focus is on Game 1.
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