Here’s part two of my collaboration with Laura from The Active Stick on Chris Higgins. When I went to the open practice on Saturday morning, I was pleased with the effort that Higgins brought. Apparently that carried over into the scrimmage game Sunday as he pocketed two goals. Nothing would please the Florida Panthers more than that type of play continuing.
Onward the the rest of Finding Chris Higgins:
4) Since he’s been traded, what can Panther fans expect? Meaning, has he been humbled by changes? Was he misused in New York?
Unfortunately, instead of just being humbled by the changes last year, his already-precarious confidence seemed to get obliterated. I went to a New York Rangers home game early last season and he just looked… lost. Totally, absolutely, completely, unbelievably lost. Not like he didn’t belong on that hockey team. Like he didn’t belong in skates at all. And then on his first trip to the Bell Centre with the team… I wanted to jump into my TV and give him a hug. John Tortorella ended up stapling him to the bench, and I think maybe it might have been out of mercy more than dissatisfaction with his play. It evened out a little as the year went on, and he seemed to start to get it together in Calgary. However, since Sutter wasn’t interested in doing anything that wasn’t absolutely certifiable this summer, Chris didn’t get an offer from them. Florida bit, so we’ll see how that goes.
5) Where does he fit in? I’m thinking he’s at least on the second line. Does he deserve that right away and if so why? If not, why not?
That’s a tough question to answer, because where Higgins fits in is entirely dependent on his linemates. I think on a team that doesn’t have much up front, you can safely put him on a second line, but on a team that has a decent offense, he’s more of your third liner, since he can be counted on defensively. He’s also the kind of guy you can throw on the top line once in a while when you’re shaking up your lines… he might not get much going but he certainly won’t do any damage and it’s worth a shot. I think he’ll definitely get some time on the penalty kill, and quite possible the power play once in a while, too. He belongs on the third line on most teams but can make a decent push for second on the Panthers.
6) Knowing that the Panthers suffer to score, and also knowing that our only decent center is Little Stevie, will Chris have enough opportunities to find his touch?
Chris’ problem is not finding the opportunities… his problem is capitalizing on them. Panthers fans can expect a lot of frustration when he hits the post and shoots the puck straight into the goalie’s pads, so I recommend learning new swear words and practicing throwing your TV remote at the wall. Still, once in a while, they do go in.
7) The Panthers dressing room is not really made up of take charge guys. How is Chris in the room if you know? Can he bring any of the Montreal tradition with him to hopefully kick the Panthers in the arse?
I remember the words “Next Canadiens Captain” being thrown around a lot his second and third year here (he also wore an ‘A’ to Saku’s ‘C’ for a long time), but that was before he lost his confidence. I think that if he has managed to recover from his incredibly bruised ego, he’ll be a take-charge guy and make his voice heard in Florida too. A lot of Chris’ future depends on whether his confidence is back where it needs to be for him to succeed.
8) Let’s assume he gets regular time on the second line and at least on one of the power play units how many goals can we expect?
Assuming all goes as he and the Panthers (and I) hope, you’re looking at around 30 goals. Couple that with his defensive smarts and you’ve got a hell of a bargain. If it doesn’t go as we all hope… then he’s just expensive eye candy.
Once again, I want to personally thank Laura for her insight on Chris.
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