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.Tags: abs, Chris Higgins, higgins