MONTREAL - You can take the boy out of Long Island, but you can't take Long Island out of the boy. Christopher Higgins continued to feast on teams from his neck of the woods Saturday night against the New Jersey Devils.
A native of Smithtown, NY, Higgins has not only averaged more goals per game against the Rangers, Devils and his hometown Islanders than all other teams, his production almost triples whenever he faces a New York area club.
After slipping a rebound past Martin Brodeur in Montreal's 2-1 loss to New Jersey, Higgins has now notched eight of his 31 career NHL goals against the Devils, Islanders and Rangers for a remarkable .615 goals-per-game average. On the flip side, Higgins fills the net at .242 clip against the rest of the NHL.
"It's more of a big deal against the Rangers and the Isles than New Jersey," admitted Higgins, who now leads the Canadiens with eight goals and 13 points. "But we did pick up Devils games on TV on the Island, so I guess that counts for something."
With eight goals in only 13 games to start the season, Higgins is well on his way to surpassing the 23 goals he notched as a rookie last season. In 2005-06, Higgins didn't score his eighth goal until game No. 54 against his hometown Islanders on Long Island.
Quickly building a reputation as one of the league's up-and-coming stars, the 23-year-old's strong start hasn't gone unnoticed by Cristobal Huet, who believes that this may only be the tip of the iceberg for Higgins.
"We'll see, but he's sure been impressive so far," said Huet after stopping 27-of-29 Devils' shots. "All of his talent combined with the strong work ethic he's shown since last season will make him a serious threat to opposing goalies for years to come."
Like the Bell Centre faithful, Higgins is crossing his fingers that Huet's prediction comes true.
"I hope I can keep this up over the course of the season," said Higgins. "Haven't set any specific goals, but it would be a definite disappointment if I didn't surpass the numbers I put up last year."
With Higgins having yet to face the Rangers or Islanders this season, he may reach those totals much faster than he thinks.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com