Hear me out, Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson could benefit from a demotion to the fourth line with Michael Pezzetta and Jake Evans, and here’s why.
Generally speaking, you can generally refer to Anderson as a SOS pad, he just gets in there and gets the job done. This season, however, Anderson has been soft like a dryer sheet. He dashes up the ice here and there, but there’s no physicality, which is very unlike number 17.
The big picture shows that Anderson has been ineffective, and his line seems to suffer the same fate. Each line he has played on has performed better before he joined, and after he departed. Something that makes Anderson stand out is his size 6’3” and 220 lbs, and the fact that he is known for using it.
That simply isn’t the case this season, he seems to be demotivated by his goal drought, and it has spilled into facets of his game. He doesn’t throw as many hits, he isn’t a menace on the forecheck or the backcheck and he just looks soft. There have been many moves made to get him going, and all of them haven’t worked.
It’s Sort Of A Demotion
Sliding Anderson down the lineup further seems like a last-ditch effort, and one many might not think about.
Here’s the thing, he has been an anchor on each line that he has played. But he can play the game fast, and so can Pezzetta and Evans, which could play into his comfort zone.
Anderson and Pezzetta could be bash bros on the fourth line, making the opponent’s nights miserable. The pair are quick, and Anderson is at his best when he uses his speed and throws his body around. With he and Pezzetta creating havoc, the pair could bring the best out of Anderson.
Offensively, all three guys are quick and the bash bros can drive the net and create a mess in the Canadiens opponent’s crease. Evans speed, and sneaky shot and puck skills will serve him well with all the space. And the three can be a nightmare in transition for opponents, and a pain in front and around the net for both the goalie and defenders.
Something has to give, Anderson isn’t waiver-eligible. And although his contract is rich for an American Hockey League player, it would be in consideration at this time of the year. He has not been good enough, but going back to the basics of rushing puck through the neutral zone, and throwing hits to help on the backcheck and forecheck.
A buzzing Anderson is a big difference from this version we have been seeing. If he can find his game, the Habs are a harder team to play against because of it.
He isn’t perfect, but nobody else on the Canadiens, other than Slafkovsky minimally, possesses the size and speed package that allows them to take over. They can make physical rush plays driving to the net, because of their strength and length, which they use to hold off back checkers.
If Anderson can shoot more, maybe watch Pezzetta closely, and keep things simple. He would unclog the drain, and let the offense start running through again. Anderson is almost a sure bet for 20 goals in most cases, so his zero goals in 21 games is a big problem.
At this point he isn’t playing very confident and loose at all, so he needs to find some familiarity with what has always worked. He has just two assists this season. These desperate times, call for desperate measures.
A healthy Anderson who is playing to his strengths is a perfect addition to a Canadiens line lacking size and physicality. He needs to crash and bang on the ice, creating space and pushing opponents back because of his power. The powerhorse has been parked in the garage for far too long, it’s time for him to polish his blades and push through the offensive block.
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