Rangers Analysis: Should Chris Higgins see 1st line duty?
If there ever was a silver lining when injuries pop up it's that you get to see how the team responds to them. Players who are generally relegated to lower line duties sometimes get to come up and showcase their skills.
When the Rangers acquired Chris Higgins there was not much debate over the type of player they were getting. Higgins was a grinding, hard working, chippy player who scores a reasonable amount of goals. He had played on the top line before in Montreal but to be honest the Rangers were not acquiring a top flight winger.
Thus far this season we have seen just about every type of Chris Higgins there is to see. We have seen the good, the bad, the ugly, the amazing and the dismal play of a winger who seems to be just trying to find his stride. Recently he seems to have found some of that swagger, scoring two goals (including his first of the season) on this three game Western road trip.
Now to put things into perspective, being an NHL head coach is kinda like being a mad scientist. You have all sorts of different components at your disposal. You have 20 different players, 12 of which needed to be sorted into four forward lines, 6 which need to be sorted out into three different defensive lines, and two which need to be placed in either a "starter" or "backup" role. Then you need to find out who will play on the two power play units and who will play on the two penalty kill unites. Once that is figured out you need to see who would work where and why, how does one guy play on the 3rd line see substantial time on the first power play unit; and other things of that nature. Yes, it's confusing.
Join me after the jump for my point.
Okay onto the point of all this.
John Tortorella currently has access to a weapon that few other coaches in the NHL have, a top-5 player. Marian Gaborik has made a huge difference with this team, and has truly made the Rangers more dangerous all around. Many times this season Tortorella has put players on the top line to help bolster their performance.
Enver Lisin saw top line duty and he immediately saw dividends of a goal and two assists. So did Artem Anisimov who recorded an assist during the one game (more like half a game) when he was centering Gaborik. Vaclav Prospal is currently leading the league in assists and is on pace to have a career year. Ales Kotalik is looking at having a career year as well, seeing tons of ice time with Gaborik on the power play. But most importantly the Rangers are seeing their young, highly touted, defenseman Michael Del Zotto flourish during his playing time with Marian Gaborik.
So here is my point. Maybe with the injury of Brandon Dubinsky, who is normally the center on that first line, Chris Higgins can replace him. Obviously Prospal would have to move to center to make this work. Since Higgins is already starting to get hot maybe this move can help him keep momentum and continue to contribute. Then, once Dubinsky is back, Higgins can move back down to the second line and continue his hot play.
To be honest Higgins was one of the many player we tagged here at the Banter to be a 20+ goal scorer. The others were Ryan Callahan, Chris Drury, Ales Kotalik, Marian Gaborik and Vaclav Prospal. Maybe this jump starts Higgins game and gets him to where he wants to be.
Just something to think about. Let me know what you think in the comments. And as always you can follow us on twitter:
My twitter account is: @joe_fortunato
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