When the Canucks re-tooled their third line at the trade dead-line - replacing the departing centre Cody Hodgson with Samme Pahlsson - the expectation was the unit becoming essentially a shutdown line as it was last season.
Some eyebrows were raised, though, when winger Chris Higgins - arguably the Canucks most consistent forward this season when he's healthy and not fighting off the effects of two staph infections - was dropped out of the top six to play with Pahlsson and Jannik Hansen. Higgins was back on the second line with Ryan Kesler and David Booth for five games, but was moved back after Monday's fiasco in Minnesota. The Canucks have gone 2-0-1 since.
Saturday in Denver, Higgins scored the tying goal and winner in overtime in a 3-2 come-from-behind victory, with Pahlsson supplying the sweet set-up pass for the 2-2 goal. In a game the Avs led 2-0 midway through, the Canucks' third line was their best...
The Vancouver Canucks didn't have much time to decide if they were interested in Chris Higgins.
It was about a minute and maybe even a shade less.
As the time left before the 2011 trade deadline ticked down to zero on February 28, the Canucks were resigned to acquiring only Max Lapierre, after they were thwarted in attempts to pry another player away from the Florida Panthers.
But in the last minute, Mike Santos, Florida's assistant general manager, called back. He asked if the Canucks would be interested in another player, an injured one, a former firstround pick, with a party-going reputation who had been on four teams in two years and hadn't had more than 12 goals in a season in three.
It was a lot to process, but the Canucks decided in about 45 seconds to pull the trigger, believing they had found a fourth-line winger with all kinds of upside. They were right, and on this one,...
OTTAWA - He was able to laugh about it Friday, but Chris Higgins also used the word scary to describe the mysterious infection that invaded his right foot for the second time in a year.
With the help of an early selfdiagnosis and a serious dose of antibiotics, Higgins seems to have fought off the virus and could play tonight when the Vancouver Canucks meet the Ottawa Senators in the second stop of their five-game eastern road swing.
Higgins skated hard in Friday's practice at the Ottawa Civic Centre and will test his foot again at this morning's game-day skate.
"It was a good first step, we'll see how it feels tomorrow," he said.
Higgins hasn't played since last Sunday night, when he scored a goal and added two assists in Vancouver's 5-1 win over the Calgary Flames. His foot was a little sore after that game, but he didn't think it was anything out of the ordinary.
"I thought it...
ST. PAUL, Minn. - Chris Higgins had a perfect 4.0 grade-point average all through high school in Smithtown, N.Y.
How else do you think he got to play hockey at Yale University?
Higgins jokes that his grades dipped slightly during the two years he spent at the renowned Ivy League school.
"It was a little more difficult there," he says with a smile. "A little more competition, as well. I got by, put it that way."
Eight years later, Higgins is back on the honour roll. His start this season with the Vancouver Canucks deserves straight A's.
A month into a new season, the case can be made that Higgins has been the team's most valuable player. He leads the team with six goals and Higgins, of course, does a whole lot more than score goals.
His work ethic is impeccable, perhaps a reflection of his blue-collar roots. Higgins' dad is a longtime New York City firefighter who spent many weeks digging...
The labels stuck like gum to their shoes.
Chris Higgins wasn't the consummate professional. Maxim Lapierre had the gift of gab but didn't bring much else to the table. That baggage accompanied the welltravelled forwards to Vancouver last season at the NHL trade deadline, but it didn't take them long to get rid of it. Arriving at the right place and at the right time in careers that were clearly at the crossroads, Higgins and Lapierre became versatile and invaluable performers during a march to the Stanley Cup final.
You can argue the Canucks wouldn't have advanced to a seven-game showdown with the Boston Bruins without Higgins able to play second or third-line wing, score four playoff goals and be willing to drop in front of shots. And the same can be said for Lapierre, who scored three times in the postseason, drove the opposition crazy and did more than just fill in for the injured Manny Malhotra...
NASHVILLE - People are starting to talk. Max Lapierre and Chris Higgins are almost inseparable. They eat together on the road, hang out together at home, often sit together around the Vancouver Canucks' dressing room.
"He's like my new girlfriend," Lapierre joked Monday.
And that's okay. Whatever.
But the main reason people are talking is that the two former Montreal Canadien castoffs -Hab-beens who arrived at the trading deadline with more red flags than Tiananmen Square -have suddenly become key pieces on a Canucks team that can move tonight within one win of Vancouver's first Western Conference final since 1994.
In Tuesday's 3-2 overtime win against the Nashville Predators, Lapierre logged 17: 09 of ice time and went 11-6 in faceoffs as the third-line centre, while Higgins scored a go-ahead goal in the third period, finished with four shots and continued to play with a surprisingly robust competitiveness.
While $20-million acquisition Keith Ballard is a healthy scratch -unexplained by coach Alain...
SAN JOSE - A couple of weeks ago, Chris Higgins was playing out the string on a Florida Panthers' team which sits in 13th place in the Eastern Conference and is even more depressing off the ice.
On Thursday night, he played a regular shift with the NHL's best team in a 5- 4 shootout win over the San Jose Sharks in what might have been the Canucks' game of the year.
Afterwards, Higgins was asked about the turn in his fortunes.
"Obviously, I didn't have a lot of games like this in Florida," he said.
And, obviously, you know what this opportunity means to him..
While Higgins is calling his new posting a work in progress, it seems clear the Canucks added a useful piece when the acquired the 27-year-old winger at the trade deadline. In his first game since recovering from a fractured thumb, Higgins played just under 13 minutes, drew a regular turn on the Canucks' fourth line...