After being acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets in October, I wrote an article explaining why Josh Anderson was going to be a great fit with the Montreal Canadiens. I hate to brag, but so far, he’s proving me right.
During this roller-coaster season for the Habs, it’s a wonder where they would be without the significant contributions from general manager Marc Bergevin’s offseason acquisitions including Anderson, leading scorer Tyler Toffoli, Jake Allen, and Joel Edmundson.
Big Goals in Big Games
Anderson has rebounded more than admirably with his new team after a disastrous 2019-20 campaign that saw him play only 26 games and score just one goal because of a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery.
With 17 goals in 41 games this year, he’s on pace for 34 goals in a normal 82-game regular season. But it’s not how many that’s important in his case, it’s when he scores that is impressive. The 26-year-old steps up when the spotlight shines brightest. Eight of his goals have given the Canadiens the lead and he has one game-tying marker as well.
On Wednesday night against the Edmonton Oilers, Anderson scored twice in a game that Montreal desperately needed to win and did to solidify their playoff position.
After Connor McDavid tied the game at 1-1 on a breakaway, Anderson scored 11 seconds later thanks to a classic power forward move to give the Canadiens the lead for good. His second, a backhand past goalie Mike Smith off a scramble in front ended up being the game-winner. An ill-timed broken stick, while Edmonton’s net was empty, prevented him from completing the hat trick.
“He’s a game-changer when he gets his feet going and playing hard and heavy like that. When he’s playing like that, he’s going to be tough to stop,” Allen said of Anderson’s performance.
Leading By Example
Heading into Wednesday’s contest having lost six of eight games, the Habs needed a spark in the worst way. Enter Anderson who talked the talk and walked the walk.
During his pre-game media availability, he implored that his team had to step up and start playing playoff hockey given the importance of the remaining games on their schedule.
He set the tone immediately in warmup, warning Alex Chiasson that he was going to have to answer for his hit that concussed Carey Price on a disallowed goal in the game 48 hours prior. The Habs responded with a dominant showing led by Anderson, particularly in the opening period, en route to a 4-3 win.
“Like I said this morning, we can’t wait around any longer; these games are way too important,” Anderson said. “We’ve got to start playing playoff hockey so once we get into the playoffs we’re ready to go (and) not a step behind.”
He has brought his team into the fight on more than one occasion this season by playing with purpose and with an edge. It wouldn’t be surprising if he’s given a letter on his jersey at some point during his tenure with the Habs in recognition of his leadership, both on and off the ice.
One of Marc Bergevin’s Best Trades
It’s early, but so far, it’s advantage Montreal in the months following the Anderson for Max Domi and a third-round pick offseason deal between the Canadiens and the Blue Jackets. In a big way.
Domi has struggled to make an impact in Columbus. He has 19 points in 46 games and can’t seem to solidify his place in the lineup. He was even a healthy scratch for two games this week after several on-ice outbursts that hurt his team.
The two players were brought in to fill glaring needs for their respective teams. Anderson is the power forward that Montreal has been seeking for some time while Domi was supposed to be Columbus’ second offensively gifted top-six centre behind Pierre-Luc Dubois.
Bergevin wins a lot of trades and this one is shaping up to be one of his best.
Given how Anderson elevates his performance for meaningful games in the regular season, it’s safe to assume that the player now affectionately known as ‘powerhorse’ amongst the Habs’ faithful, will be an unstoppable force in the playoffs. On Wednesday, he put opposing teams on notice.
Melissa has been covering the Montreal Canadiens for The Hockey Writers since March of 2020. She is also THW’s Social Media Community Manager and a co-host of Chicks & Sticks, a weekly show produced by THW. In 2006, she spearheaded the social media initiatives for Tennis Canada and Rogers Cup and was the primary person responsible for their upkeep for over 10 years. She has written articles for multiple tennis websites and interviewed the likes of Roger Federer and Serena Williams. While her career in sports started in tennis, her first love has always been hockey. She has a journalism degree from Concordia University.