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 “ZOMG ABS” Higgins .
And so we come to the end of the Every Goal series with the back half of Chris Higgins’s entry, a post that bears a striking similarity to the first half.
If you read yesterday’s post, you got used to nice passes from Jannik Hansen, tips from Dan Hamhuis, and Higgins’s standout tendency to get in behind defences and be the first one on rebounds. Nothing has changed in part two. Higgins was a tried and true opportunist in 2011-12, pouncing on loose pucks, finishing off pretty passes, and cashing in on breakaways galore. It remains to be seen if he’ll get as many fortunate opportunities next season as he did last year, but once you’ve watched all 18 Higgins goals from last year, one thing’s for sure: more often than not, if he gets an opportunity, he’s going to convert.
Here are eight more times he converted.
In part one yesterday, we discovered that Higgins is something of an opportunist. All too often, he gets in behind the defence, or finds himself all alone with a rebound. That continues into part two, clearly, as he pounces on a rebound after Mason Raymond’s breakaway attempt is stopped. Now, I’m no hockey expert, but I feel like Niklas Kronwall (#55) probably could have done something to prevent this. Like maybe tying up Higgins’s stick, since rebounds on breakaways are pretty common. But that’s not the worst of it for Kronwall: check out Kesler throwing a shoulder into Kronwall’s face as he raises his arms to celebrate the goal. That was on purpose. Check out the line Kesler takes to ensure he gets a piece of him.
Higgins and Hansen have shown some good chemistry in this series, and here’s another instance, as Hansen picks up the puck along the wall, then finds Higgins in the slot for the goal. But there’s a NSFW Easter egg in this clip: If you watch listen very carefully, you can see and hear Cam Barker drop an eff bomb at the beginning of the clip when his clearing attempt turns out to be a perfect pass to Hansen. And you can hear Barker drop another eff bomb one the moment Higgins scores. Hilarious.
Higgins scores the empty-netter to ice what was clearly a real barn-burner between the Canucks and the Blues.
I don’t think we gave enough credit to Jannik Hansen for his feed on Higgins’s sixth, so let’s amend that somewhat by taking a moment to appreciate what he does here. After Samuel Pahlsson creates a turnover at the Canucks’ blueline, Hansen makes a beautiful little tap pass to spring Higgins the other way. The play reverses course so abruptly that Alex Goligoski loses his footing trying to change directions, and Higgins blows by him into the Stars zone. Then he blows the puck by Richard Bachman on the blocker side for the goal.
Two beautiful passes here. Kevin Bieksa’s pass to Pahlsson in the middle of the zone is pitch-perfect, and Pahlsson’s back-pass to Higgins is even better. Pahlsson wasn’t exactly known for his offensive abilities, but he had his moments in Vancouver, and this is one of them. Higgins takes advantage of the lovely feeds, muscling off a stick-check to the midsection (where, as we all know, he has much muscle), and beating Semyon Varlamov for the goal.
Speaking of muscle, Jannik Hansen has a great deal more than you might expect. Rookie d-man Tyson Barrie learns this the hard way, getting thrown off the puck like he weighs about 16 pounds. But Hansen’s not done there. His pass to Higgins is through the legs of another Avalanche defender and between two more, and Higgins one-times it home for the overtime winner.
Man alive, Higgins was just money on breakaways last season, wasn’t he? Here’s yet another gift from the Avalanche defence, as Matt Hunwick bobbles a puck at the blue line and Higgins takes off as it squirts to Pahlsson. It’s a nice shot, especially with a rolling puck, but I think Higgins’s effort to muscle Hunwick out of the passing lane as the breakaway feed comes is even more impressive. It’s downright Hansen-esque.
If we take anything away from Chris Higgins’s every goal series, it should be this: Alain Vigneault’s heavily-criticized decision to take Higgins off the American Express line and play him on the third line with Jannik Hansen probably wasn’t so bad. Hansen and Higgins have some serious chemistry. Here’s another example, as Hansen chips a puck out to the neutral zone, fights off a check along the wall in the Stars’ end, then makes a feed to Higgins curling into the center of the ice. Philip Larsen gets victimized a little here, as he briefly stops tracking Higgins to watch Hansen and Goligoski battle it out on the boards. That split-second of lost concentration is what gives Higgins the space he needs.
Higgins’s last goal of the season is, much like his first (and his seventh), a deflection off a Dan Hamhuis wrister from the point. But don’t just watch the live-action replay — watch the reverse angle, where you can see the beauty of the tip a little better. Not since It Could Happen to You has there been a tip this lovely.Tags: Chris Higgins, Every Goal, every goal 2011-12