Chris Higgins has stopped scoring goals (still has abs)

It’s no secret that Ryan Kesler has been struggling lately. He has just 3 points in his last 9 games and the minor foofaraw in the media over his and Alain Vigneault’s comments merely focussed attention on these struggles. To be honest, though, I’m not actually that concerned about Kesler because I am confident he can turn things around. Mike Gillis doesn’t seem concerned either.

I am, however, concerned about Chris Higgins.

Back in November, Higgins was tied for the team lead in goals with Henrik Sedin. He had 7 goals in the team’s first 20 games, putting him on pace for 29 goals, which would have been a career high. He also used the bottom of his shirt to blow his nose, revealing his sumptuously sculpted stomach. Take a guess which one people paid more attention to.

Since then, however, Higgins has scored just 3 goals in 22 games and is now 7th on the team in goalscoring. He hasn’t scored a goal in 10 games and has just 2 assists in that time. He hasn’t had more than 2 shots in a game in a month.

Part of the problem is that just as Higgins was heating up, his body betrayed him, succumbing to a staph infection. The infection first swelled his foot to a gross size, then mysteriously spread to his hand, causing him to miss a few games both times. That likely threw him off his rhythm, but the real problem is that the antibiotics he’s taking to deal with the infection are apparently sapping his energy.

While Kesler certainly has more expectations placed on him, it’s worth considering the role that Higgins’ struggles have played in Kesler’s lack or results. Is it any wonder that he doesn’t share the puck when his most frequent linemate hasn’t done anything particularly interesting with it lately?

I have never doubted Higgins’ work ethic: the guy skates hard, wins puck battles, and never stops competing. One of the best moments in Tuesday night’s game against the Kings was when Higgins out-battled two opponents behind the net, gaining control of the puck with just one hand on his stick. It showed his sheer determination and illustrated exactly why he clicked so well with Kesler earlier in the season.

Right now, however, neither Kesler nor Higgins are scoring and the blame cannot be solely laid at the feet of Kesler.

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11 comments

  1. CanuckFanInSF
    January 18, 2012

    Ask my husband, every time I watch a Canucks game and Higgins’ mug is plastered on the screen I say out loud “Chris Higgins scores goals, has abs” kinda reminiscent of that scene in Zoolander where every time Owen Wilson shows up, somebody quips “Hansel. So hot right now, Hansel” Oh, I say the same thing for honey badger “Hansen. So hot right now. Hansen”

    God. That is the best PITB headline (ever) in my book.

    Kinda sucky that once the team starts gaining momentum, crap happens (i.e. Rome was on his way to his first Norris cup until his injury (hah), Booth and knee sprain, Higgins and staph infection, Salo and… er.. Marchand) Somehow the team manages to persevere. I think the problem right now is focus. There’s this general malaise during games and I don’t know what the cause is.

    I hope they pull together through for the post-season. Because they sure won’t make it to the second round with what they have right now game wise.

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    • DYatesPI
      January 18, 2012

      I do the Hansen thing too! aw.

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    • Kate
      January 19, 2012

      Haha my whole family does the Hansen thing too! People are strange.

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  2. sarah
    January 18, 2012

    Chris Higgins has stopped scoring goals (Still has abs)…Regarding the second thought, I’m not quite sure I’m willing to believe it without substantial photographic evidence…

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  3. tom selleck's moustache
    January 18, 2012

    “He also used the bottom of his shirt to blow his nose, revealing his sumptuously sculpted stomach. Take a guess which one people paid more attention to.”

    I know which one I paid more attention to! Mmrawwrrr!

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  4. I'mjustsuggesting
    January 18, 2012

    Kesler has a $5 mill cap hit, 2nd highest of any forward on the team.
    Higgins has a $1.9 mill cap hit, 7th highest of the forwards on the team.

    There are different expectations for both Kesler and Higgins, it’s reflected in their salary/cap hits. Kesler has to find a way to produce despite his linemates. When Higgins was hot at the beginning of this season, Kesler was still non-exsistant.

    Keslers lack of production is solely on him. Just as Higgins lack of production is solely on him. However, there are different ex[expectations for both guys.

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  5. JDM
    January 19, 2012

    “While Kesler certainly has more expectations placed on him, it’s worth considering the role that Higgins’ struggles have played in Kesler’s lack or results.”

    D-wags, I think you got it twisted bro. Kesler’s recent struggles have led to Higgins’s lack of results. Higgins is still working hard, and that shift against LA is good evidence. He needs to do that more consistently like he was to start the year, but it’s still there. Using that play as an example, Higgins digs the puck loose, Raymond ends up with it in the high slot, takes a shot and there’s a juicy rebound just outside the crease for Kes who… gets beat to the puck and can’t get it on goal.

    Consequently, I’m not so much worried about Higgins. If he keeps working the chances will come for him and his linemates. Particularly if you end up being right and things adjust themselves so that Kesler becomes Kesler again. But that’s what I’m worried about where you’re not – Kesler’s reaction to mediocre play is to become defensive, as we’ve seen a couple of times publicly this season (his “those were the best 3 games of my career” stupidity and the recent Vigneault “spat that isn’t a spat” thing). No way to know what goes on outside of the public spotlight, but I get the impression that he isn’t terribly interested in adjusting to deal with the adjustments defenders have made against him. If he’s unwilling to do that, it WON’T get much better for him, and his linemates won’t have much better luck than they’re having now.

    Good thing we have line 2B now.

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  6. madwag
    January 19, 2012

    MUST SEE: The Morning Buzz for January 19 on Nucks Misconduct: the Jon Stewart takedown of the Boston Bruins. It is hilariously and perfectly spot on.

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    • SteveB
      January 19, 2012

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      • Ablefish
        January 19, 2012

        If only it wasn’t a fan creation…

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        • obituary mambo
          January 22, 2012

          I take comfort in the fact that, as a loyal New York area sports fan, were Stewart a hockey guy, he would more than likely hate the Bruins.

          Having said that, this would be far more awesome if any of it had actually aired on the Daily Show.

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