By now you've heard the two dissonant pieces of Chris Higgins news: (Editor - by "dissonant", Dave Pucks means the two pieces of news don't seem to go together)
This is what we're hearing;
1- We are trying to trade Chris Higgins
2- We have promoted Chris Higgins to our top line
On the surface this makes no sense. We hate Chris so we're trying to trade him - or - we love Chris so we put him on Gaborik's line?
It can't be both. Or can it?
The main problem with the New York Rangers offense is not about how to get Gaborik more goals. The main problem is - how do we get everyone else some more goals?
Think of it as a mathematical theorem (Editor - I don't know where Dave Pucks is going with this one - you're on your own, people)
If: Chris Higgins skates with Gabby
Then: Chris will not get guarded much because everyone will be focusing on the NHL's leading goal scorer
And If: Chris doesn't get guarded much
Then: he will get some open ice
And If: he gets open ice
Then: he will get more quality chances
And If: he gets some quality chances
Then: he will score more goals.
And Then: his plus-minus will go up just from being on Gabby's line
And Then: the added confidence of scoring will make Chris a better player even when he's not on Gaborik's line
If: the Rangers love Higgy
Then: this is great because they have jump started him
And if: the Rangers hate Higgins
Then: this is great because his numbers will look better - making it much easier to trade him.
So - either way the move makes sense - and Higgins fans and foes should be rooting for him tonight.
But anyway - how about a little Preview, people?
Who the Hell are we playing? The Philadelphia Flyers are actually worse than us. In the Eastern Conference we’re in 9th place at 18-16-4 and the Flyers are two points behind us at 18-18-2 in 13th place. But the Flyers are the hottest team in the East with 3 straight wins. The Rangers have won 4of 5 themselves.
Primary Skaters: The Flyers are lead by three centers: Mick Richards with 16 goals, Jeff Carter with 14 goals and Danny Briere with 13. Defenseman Chris Pronger (how would you like to take that last name through High School?) leads the team with 19 assist. And Defenseman Matt Carle has the team’s best plus-minus at +11 – very impressive for a team with a losing record.
In Net: The Flyers have contributions from three goalies this year – all saving over 90% of their shots. Imagine how sharp Hank would be if he had 2 competent backups? The lead dog is Ray Emery who has appeared in 21 games with a 2.83 GAA and a .901 save percentage. Brian Boucher has appeared in 16 games with a 2.66 GAA and a .902 save percentage. And Michael Leighton has a 2.15 GAA and a .933 save percentage.
Scoring & Defense: The Flyers score 2.79 goals per game to our 2.76. And they let up 2.87 goals a game to our 2.79. So we’re looking at two similar clubs.
Special Effects: Philadelphia PP runs at 20.9% to our 21.7%. Their PK is at 78.2% to our 85.6% So - advantage us.
Scheduling Conflicts: We played and lost to the Islanders (in OT!) on Saturday night. The Flyers then beat the Islanders on Sunday. So we’re a little more rested.
Probable Lines: As mentioned up top - the top line is Higgins with Gabby and Dubinsky, and I don’t yet know how that shakes out in the remaining lines. Will re-post if I get word.
On Defense: Still Redden (ugh), Rozsival (partial ugh), Staal, Girardi, Del Zotto and Gilroy. Does anyone miss Ilkka Heikkenin?
Fronting the Twine: As you know, I'd start Chad Johnson – just to give Hank some rest. Word is that will finally happen – tomorrow. So tonight we go back to Lundqvist – who has had a few days off to reload.
Dave Puck Predicts: Fly-Boys are hot. It’s going to come down – as it always does – to which Lundqvist shows up – the King or the Not-So-Much King. We’re without Prospal. I’m saying a 3-2 shootout win.
Loose Pucks: My 11 year old son – Pucks Junior – had to have braces put on his teeth yesterday. He is not happy about it and his mouth is really hurting him today. So if you can add a comment below with a few words of encouragement – I’m sure it will make the little guy’s day a little brighter. Thanks
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