chris higgins

JARKKO POLO: Millionaires Bankrupted

The bad weeks always start good don’t they? A tease of maybe what’s to come and then WHAMMY! kicked in the junk. Watching the Canucks this past week was basically that; big win against the Jets, then rocking the Millionaires jerseys should have been so much fun but no, yet another embarrassement. Of course to cap it all off, the Stars found a way to shame the Canucks.

With the playoffs literally 2 weeks away, maybe now isn’t the best time to start flirting with disaster. Call me crazy but it probably isn’t safe. To make matters worse, I had my wisdom teeth pulled out and watching that OT loss to the Stars hurt just as much as the endless throbbing pain where my teeth once were.

I know there are wins hiding somewhere, come on out wins, we need you!

THE GAMES WE PLAYED

Vs. Winnipeg Jets – WIN 5-2

RECAP: Dare I tell you how it started? So we’re down 2-0, story of the century I know; all seemed to be lost once again. BUT WAIT! Chris Higgins is back and scoring goals? Yep sure is! So that made things feel a bit better and wouldn’t ya know it, our PP scored too! Yannick Weber was the latest edition to the man advantage and his booming slapper found its way to the mesh. Radim Vrbata would add a real goal and an empty netter as would Henrik and we grounded the Jets 5-2. This one felt pretty good at the end and those slick Millionaire jerseys were next.

Vs. Colorado Avalanche – LOSE – 4-1 (BURN THOSE JERSEYS)

RECAP: Vancouver trotted out their ever famous Millionaires jerseys paying homage to the 1915 Stanley Cup Champion team’s 100th anniversary. We’re seriously doing that now. Lets celebrate losing in ’82 and ’94 while were at it. I swear I am not copy/pasting this: Canucks go down 3-0 to the Avs and it just feels like we need to burn those jerseys before the end of the game, they aren’t helping. Yannick Weber would score his second PPG in as many games but that’s all the Canucks would get. Losing 4-1 to a team that played the night before and lost, not fun. Sadly, the week wasn’t over.

Vs. Dallas Stars – LOSE – 4-3 OT (Moral Victory?)

RECAP: Thankfully, after Jamie Benn opened the scoring, yup playing from behind again, the Canucks answered back with a real good goal by Nick Bonino. I know, he still plays for the Canucks; I was confused too! Chris Higgins would put Vancouver ahead and it was all coming together. Midway through the third, Dallas tied it up and then went ahead with about 6 minutes to go. Radim Vrbata would PPG it late and off to overtime we go. I’m not sure if the Canucks know how OT works but the point is to score the last goal, they did not. A point was awarded to the Canucks but they could have used the second one.

 

3 THINGS FROM TWITTER

There wasn’t much to be happy about this week but there were a few gems:

I agree with Jeff here, but they are neato looking

Things may seem bad in Canucksland, but David Booth fought Phil Kessel in practice..Things are fine here.

I didn’t see WM but it sounds like a lot of my buds did. Sting is back?

It’s not that the Canucks are playing awful, they just are losing some games right now that hurt my feelings. Having Zack Kassian and Brad Richardson out of the lineup is huge and that extra grit and grind is missed. Hopefully on this final stretch the boys will bring it all together, or at least enough to beat out LA or Calgary. Good thing is no more Millionaires jerseys so things should be fine.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Debunking Your Canucks Arguments Because You’re Wrong

Since moving away from the lower mainland a few years ago, my intake of radio armchair GM’s has dropped dramatically. Thankfully I have been able to take a more thought out approach to my opinions without being influenced by the wacky ideas and comments that flood Vancouver sports radio on a day to day basis. Don’t get me wrong, if it wasn’t for the “intelligent” minds there really is only talking heads, that participation is crucial.

That being said, there are a few arguments out there that seem to gain steam, some that are downright ridiculous and believe it or not, a few good ones. WIth all the opinions out there, there’s bound to be a few that actually make sense. However, the wrong ones are the ones we debate the most and I am going to rip through all of those zany ideas and show you why you’re wrong. 

(Now go to your kitchen cupboards and grab a grain of salt.)

THE ARGUMENT: The Sedins are second liners now; they don’t have what it takes to be a top line anymore.

WHY YOU’RE WRONG: This one got me thinking after listening to the latest Pass it to Bulis podcast. You’d be hardpressed to find more than maybe eight teams that they wouldn’t be top line players. As far as the Canucks are concerned, they are still the number one line. They still  get the top matchups every night and lead the team by 11 points at 60 with Radim Vrbata next at 49. The drop off is huge after that. Nick Bonino, Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen all have 30 and down it goes after that.

Second line players don’t lead your team in points, well this team anyways. Until the Sedins show a dramatic drop off or they retire, odds are they are going to be the top line in Vancouver. They aren’t 100 point players anymore and maybe the 80’s are as high as they get now but by the looks of this season, 60 points this late is really good. John Tavares of the Islanders has 72 points for the league lead. Enough said. 

So if you have some crazy notion that Nick Bonino, Radim Vrbata and Shawn Matthias are your top line, or that Sidney Crosby is done too, you are very wrong.



 

THE ARGUMENT: The Canucks aren’t a very good team.

WHY YOU’RE WRONG…..TO A DEGREE: The Canucks are definitely not the king of the castle anymore, but they are way better than a season ago and really, better than they were in 2012. As soon as they lost the Cup in 2011 everything changed. Countless identity changes later, Vancouver finally is following a path that seems to be paying off. Credit WIllie Desjardins, Trevor Linden and Jim Benning for changing it to its current state.

The power play this season is atrocious I’ll give you that and sure, they don’t score a ton of goals and yes I’ll agree they seem to enjoy being down two and three goals before they get their game going; but if you take away the fancy stats and some of the basic ones, they’re second in the Pacific. Albeit, a weak division that had their way with the Canucks last year, aside from a large collapse the Canucks are playing for the Stanley Cup this year.

Losing to the awful teams sure doesn’t help my case here but the overall game they have played this season has been fairly entertaining and has every line involved…every…single…game. The injuries definitely took their toll on the lineup but it forced half of the Utica Comets to show what they could do. It wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was great. You now love Ronalds Kenins.

If the Canucks weren’t a very good team we wouldn’t be talking about the potential for upsets in the playoffs or how well our three second/third lines are. A bit more grey area here but they dont’ suck. Agree to disagre on this?

THE ARGUMENT: Ryan Miller is washed up, he looks like he voluntarily gives up soft goals and he is passed his prime.

WHY YOU’RE WRONG: Actually, I agree with most of that. Even though Miller did post 28 wins, 6 shutouts a perfect shootout record going 2 for 2; game in and game out he struggled to make the easy saves and as a fan, didn’t look like he gave his team a chance to win EVERY game. Every goalie goes through struggles and the ones learning a new team, a new system and a goalie coach, they have it worse. With Eddie Lack gaining confidence and believing this is HIS team, Miller at the end of the day ends up being an expensive bridge to the future.

Ryan Miller may not play another game this season for multiple reasons, the main one being that even if he’s healthy; it will be the heart of the playoffs and there is no team that starts a cold goalie when you only get 4 losses in a series. Even the expensive mistakes have silver linings. 

So on this one YOU’RE RIGHT!

WILLIE’S ARGUMENT: Ronalds Kenins is the odd man out until someone plays bad enough or Kenins pots a goal every game.

WHY HE’S WRONG: Now that the Canucks are basically healthy (just Miller really), every game Willie D has quite a task of deciding who should sit. I called out Chris Higgins because I felt he hadn’t held his own as much as he should have this year, I did that twice. Both times, he scored and we won. So anyone can be wrong. What WD is doing is so wrong though. He has put Kenins in the linup and he has outperformed what most of us, if not all of us thought he would do originally. Once the injured players started coming back, Kenins looked to be the odd man out.

Thankfully, through some divine intervention a new injury reared its head and WHAMMY! Ronny gets put back in. His line with Bo Horvat and Jannik Hansen has been electric for some time now and their chemistry shows. Kenins has 11 pts in 19 GP and if Bo Horvat is considered the teams fourth line pivot, thats pretty good output for a fourth line player that was riding the bus to start the year.

There are a few options of who should be coming out now: Linden Vey and ocassionally Nick Bonino. Yes, both are centres but its not a stretch to move Shawn Matthias up to the middle. At some point its the guys that are getting it done that you want in.

So Willie, put Ronny in FULL TIME, because YOU’RE WRONG!

This doesn’t cover all those wacky theories that are out there but debunking a few of them will help you get through your day. I know i’ll sleep better tonight. Just remember, when you go to bash your Canucks think about how much worse you could have it. Check the standings, see where the Twins are in the scoring race and maybe chill out a bit.

The Canucks are winning the Cup this year because they are a elite team. They have everyt….I can’t go on anymore. Just settle down and realise you have it pretty good here. Really good.

I take back the Cup comment until further notice.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Shawn Matthias Is The New Higgins, Time To Go Higgy

Chris Higgins was a great deadline deal for the Canucks and former GM Mike Gillis. His soldier like effort game in and game out made him a fan favorite and a great match for his coaches. He could be put anywhere in the lineup and produce. Well even though he has signed that nice little deal, there are cheaper options already making their mark and it looks like his time could be up. 

Shawn Matthias has a lot of those same characteristics, 4 years younger and producing at a higher clip. Matthias I believe, has also been very impactful to Zack Kassian. While Kass was busy being healthy scratched, he had time to see how the power forward position is played. Driving to the net, playing along the boards and the sweet finishing touch has given Jim Benning an upgrade at the 7th forward. Jannik Hansen has seen plenty of time at that spot and the natural progression is taking place.

Because Kassian is so young, emulating that type of player can only benefit his game and might be the stepping stone he needs to get to the next level of his career. Matthias is a UFA this summer and Benning would be smart to keep him around. Every team needs its stars but they also need a solid bottom six and having Matthias heading up that area is good for business. 

In 2011, when it all seemed to come together, Higgins and Maxim Lapierre were brought in at the deadline. Having those two experienced playoff performers put the Canucks over the top, well until Game 3 anyways. We uh, we lost the Cup after that. With Matthias here, he seems to be filling that role now.

With every game  Bo Horvat plays he climbs up the depth chart;  the emergence of Ronalds Kenins, as well as Kassian’s improvement, Higgins is being out youthed and simply outplayed. His ice time unfortunately doesn’t neccesarily dictate that but having to be paired with Radim Vrbata keeps him safe. 

Eventually Brad Richardson comes back and Linden Vey and Derek Dorsett will flank his wings; Chris Higgins will really need to prove he still holds value in a Canucks jersey. 

The Canucks didn’t need to make any moves this year and the term “stand pat” was used a bunch and if it’s one thing I love, it’s a good catch phrase. It sure says a lot about the future of the team when we still have Virtanen, McCann, Jensen and a good stable of picks. Benning wants to see this team through and didn’t want to jeopardize the future for a quick fix.

Higgins isn’t the only guy that most likely will be moved after this season and if for whatever reason the Nucks miss the spring dance, there is a boatload of talent in the top 15. Don’t be surprised if Bieksa and/or Hansen is moved as well, might be worth a hefty ransom.

Chris Higgins is still a very good player but at 31, and thats not old, his job can be done by a 25 year old. I’ll save the Ryan Miller debate for another day.

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Photo credit – metronews.ca

Alex Burrows Reborn

His story is already well known: ball hockey star gets shot in AHL after slumming in the ECHL, turns heads and cracks NHL roster. This story gets better and better and almost had a fairytale cherry on top. But that was then and this is now. After a dismal season at best under John Tortorella, Alex Burrows is looking to be reborn this season.

The life was good; top line winger with Henrik and Daniel Sedin potting 30+ goals and getting league wide recognition as a finisher. His past life as an agitator slowly fading away with his true talent shining through. But the foot injury that sidelined Burrows for the start of last season and then breaking his jaw as well as a fight with Phil Kessel that ended in yet another injury; forced Burr down the line to the point fans and media wondered if he would ever get his spark back.

Now, on a line with Nick Bonino and Chris Higgins, Burrows gets that chance to light up the spark. His never die attitude had to have gotten the attention of new coach Willie Desjardins as it warranted an offseason visit in his hometown from the new bench boss. Burrows has been part of a core that was 60 minutes away from winning the Stanley Cup; now he looks like a shell of his former self. The drive is still there and with a rejuvenated line that doesn’t include the name Ryan Kesler, he might just get his chance to step up.

Alex knows how to pot goals and he knows that the dirty spots are where they come for him. A healthy Burrows gives the Canucks another valuable scoring and playmaking winger that the players trust and that the coaches are willing to go to when the game is on the line. In 2011, it looked like Alex was that guy:

Trade rumours swirled this past year and with up and coming wingers Jensen and Shinkaruk, the writing is on the wall. It’s time to see the new Alex Burrows. He’s never backed down from a challenge. This is one he’ll want to take.

Follow me on twitter @hankthetank10 and @always90four

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com