Lack of tough guys not hurting Canucks
If you’re ever going to get the Vancouver Canucks to change the model that’s enabled them to have success in the past year, it’s probably best to try when they aren’t enjoying a 9-1 stretch.
But despite the current run, and a trip to the Stanley Cup final, there are those who still believe the Canucks are doing it wrong. As the story goes, the team’s lack of toughness renders them incapable of self-policing and therefore exposes their best players to undue risk. Opponents who may be prone to taking liberties at the best of times are further emboldened against the Canucks for a few reasons.
One, the highly-hyped success the Boston Bruins had in the Cup final. It would seem logical with all the publicity it got, rightly or not, teams would try and duplicate it. Two, the worst that line-crossing opponents will probably face is a fight with the undersized Dale Weise. He’s a guy who is game, but Weise is about as effective as lullabies and warm milk in keeping opponents awake at night.
But to counter these concerns, GM Mike Gillis continues to hold a pretty effective hammer.
“It doesn’t seem to be working. You can’t argue with the results,” he said Sunday. “We had very good results last season and we’re starting to do it again.
“There are some players who want to run around and hit guys from behind and that’s a league issue and it’s something the league is getting out of the game. If officials do their jobs, we will win games.”
Higgins, who played Saturday despite still recovering from a staph infection in his foot, has since become a fixture in the Canucks top six. He has eight goals, and nine assists in 27 games this year. During that time, he’s possibly been the Canucks most consistent forward. Certainly, when it comes to work ethic, he’s been setting an impressive pace.
So when Gillis talks about wanting guys who can play on his fourth line, he’s talking about guys like Higgins.