VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks will be without the services of red-hot winger Chris Higgins in Tuesday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche.
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said Higgins suffered a recurrence of a staph infection in his foot that sidelined him for several games last season with the Florida Panthers.
“(Higgins) came in (Monday) morning. His foot was all swollen up,” Vigneault said. “According to what he’s telling us, he had the same thing happen to him last year in Florida. Initially there, I think he missed six or seven games. They thought it was a skate bite, and then they thought it was a spider bite and then they finally figured out that it was a staph infection.”
Vigneault said Higgins was due to visit an infection specialist Monday. The Canucks have recalled Viktor Oreskovich from Chicago of the AHL to take Higgins’ spot in the lineup.
“Hopefully, with their experience in the past, they can get this under control real quick,” said Vigneault. “What I saw with his foot (Monday), I don’t think he’s going to play (Tuesday). But, hopefully, (his absence) won’t be long.”
The 28-year-old Higgins, a native of Smithtown, N.Y., recorded a goal and two assists in Sunday’s 5-1 victory over the Calgary Flames to extend his points streak to four games. With 17 points, he is well on his way to surpassing the 23 he produced last season with Florida and the Canucks, who acquired him at the trade deadline to help with their run to the Stanley Cup finals.
Higgins’ absence means Vigneault will inevitably revamp his second unit, which includes David Booth and Ryan Kesler. The trio of Higgins and Detroit-area products Booth and Kesler, dubbed the American Express Line because of their U.S. birthplaces, combined for eight points in the one-sided win over a Calgary club that lost for only the second time in six games.
All three had slow starts to the season, Booth first with Florida before a trade, but they have come on strong lately and helped the Canucks (15-10-1) post six wins in their past seven games.
Oreskovich is expected to play a fourth-line role. Higgins’ injury gives the 25-year-old Whitby, Ont., native a second chance with the Canucks. He was demoted earlier in the season after the Canucks picked up winger Dale Weise on waivers from the New York Rangers.
Oreskovich, known for his toughness and physical play, has a modest one goal and four assists and just six penalty minutes in 11 games in the AHL.
“He just got back playing,” Vigneault said. “He was out with a concussion for some time. They played three games on the weekend. They played three games in three nights, and we heard he played really well. So, for what we need right now, we’ll call him up and put him on one of those lines.”
Meanwhile, winger Aaron Volpatti spoke to reporters after learning Saturday he is out for the season due to a torn labrum in his left shoulder that will require surgery. Volpatti said he originally hurt the shoulder when he was hit by Los Angeles Kings’ defenceman Matt Greene in November. He aggravated it Thursday when someone fell on him in the game against Columbus, in which he scored his first and last goal of the season.
“It’s tough, obviously,” Volpatti said about the timing of the diagnosis in relation to his first goal. “But things happen and you’ve just got to move on.”