The annual Every Goal series will run Monday to Thursday through July and August, remembering every goal scored by the Canucks, player by player. Today, we take a look at Chris “Kiss Huggins” Higgins.
From a production standpoint, Chris Higgins’s second season in Canucks’ colours was a pleasant surprise. When he wasn’t sitting out with an unpleasant surprise — a staph infection that was obviously a secret zombie bite — he scored 18 goals, won the hearts of many, and was awarded the Fred J. Hume Unsung Hero award for his efforts.
It’s maybe not the most aptly named trophy. Higgins was plenty sung. As perhaps the only Canuck forward to exceed expectations for the year, he won the hearts of nearly everyone. And for those of you whose hearts are not so easily won by goals, his abs were pretty popular too.
But this post isn’t about his abs. It’s about his goals. (Sorry. I recognize that some of you are disheartened, but take solace in the fact that his abs are resting comfortably under his clothes.) Enjoy the first half of Chris Higgins’s 2011-12 goal haul.
Higgins’s first goal comes on a deflection after a long wrister by Dan Hamhuis. The goal is so unexpected that Manny Malhotra actually goes flying right by the group hug because he thinks the puck’s going to end up in the corner. Silly Manny.
Some great work by Kevin Bieksa to start this play by fighting off an ultra-hold from Zac Rinaldo before throwing the puck down behind the goal. It’s a smart thing to do, since it’s the Flyers and they have absolutely no plan defensively, so Burrows looks like Gretzky back there. He makes a nice pass to Higgins, who tucks the puck in on the short side, where Ilya Bryzgalov has left a universe-sized hole.
Higgins score off the rush here, in on a 2-on-1 with Cody Hodgson. He originally angles for the assist, making the cross-ice feed to Hodgson, but the puck deflects off Jonathan Blum and back to him. It couldn’t be more convenient, as Pekka Rinne has guessed pass and has a glove over there, so he’s in perfect position if the pass gets through. Lucky for Higgins, it doesn’t, and he bats the puck home on the short side. Also on the short side? These guys.
Speaking of lucky deflections, Higgins gets another here, as a puck squirts free to him behind the defence on the powerplay, and he walks it out in front. Vokoun makes the first save, spinning out of the crease to get in front of it, but can only sit and watch as Higgins tucks in the rebound. And sit and watch he does. Vokoun is on his butt facing the goal when Higgins pots this one. All he needs is a big bowl of Kettle chips.
Clearly envying Tomas Vokoun’s spinny adventure, Higgins goes for one of his own after scoring this goal on a nice feed from Jannik Hansen. After beating Vokoun, he twirls into the corner like Ryu doing a hurricane kick.
This goal should have a lot of similarities, and not just because we should be used to seeing Hansen set Higgins up by now. There’s also the deke, which looks a great deal like Alex Burrows’s go-to move on the breakaway. Higgins doesn’t kick the leg, but no matter. Kiprusoff buys the fake anyway and Higgins goes top shelf on the backhand. Poor Kiprusoff. He never gets any help. The Flames provide so many breakaways to the Canucks you’d think they were running a sporting goods store.
Higgins score the overtime winner in a November game versus the Senators much the same way he scored his first of the season, by unexpectedly deflecting a Dan Hamhuis prayer from the blue line. It’s quintessential Kiss Huggins afterwards, too, as he embraces Cody Hodgson for one of the sweetest snuggles of the 2011-12 season (above).
Another rebound goal for Higgins, who benefits here from a really pretty David Booth move on Joe Piskula. It probably helps that Piskula’s playing his fourth NHL game in five years. Piskula messes up the angle as the Canucks gain the zone, then loses his footing trying to clear somebody — anybody — out of the paint. This leaves Higgins wide open in front, and he makes no mistake, before giving Booth a big bear hug. Unfortunately, this confuses Booth, who shoots him.
Seriously, how does Higgins get so alone in front? Don’t people know his nickname is Kiss Huggins, and that he just wants to be close to everyone? Somehow, for about the eleventy billionth time already in this series, Higgins is all alone in front, and he does the same thing he usually does once he’s there: he scores. So who left him alone? That would be Luke Schenn, who briefly confuses the defensive zone with a leisure centre and goes for a skate in the corner. Amusing sidenote: Brian Burke got James van Riemsdyk for this kid.Tags: Chris Higgins, Every Goal, every goal 2011-12