Canadiens: Josh Anderson Back On Top Line in Most Recent Line Shake-up

San Jose Sharks v Montreal Canadiens
San Jose Sharks v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

It’s safe to say that Montreal Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis has a line he likes to keep in his back pocket when things aren’t going well, as Josh Anderson has once again moved to the top of the lineup.

He’s taking Juraj Slafkovksy’s place on Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield’s wing. The move happened during the third period of the Canadiens 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday. Anderson practiced on that line again on Wednesday.

Slafkovsky now slots in on a line with Joel Armia and Sean Monahan, with Joshua Roy being demoted to the AHL. Look, things are not going well for the Habs right now, with each of the last three games being perhaps their worst games of the season, but this is puzzling. We’ve seen the Anderson on the top-line experiment enough to know it won’t work.

This seems to be a staple for St. Louis when he wants to switch the lines up, trusting Anderson to bring the juice to the top line. But I would argue Anderson has been one of the biggest disappointments this year. And if anyone was deserving of a demotion, it’d be him. Instead, he’s shouldering more of the load for a struggling offence. It’s tough to reason with, to be quite honest.

And it leaves an even worse taste in Habs fans' mouths when two of your most promising young players are the ones who suffer the most from this move. Slafkovsky has admittedly struggled during the losing skid, but aside from Caufield, who hasn’t?

Maybe Roy, but he’s been sent back to Laval. A move I think is best for Roy at this time. Better to play first line minutes down there than fourth-line minutes up here. But I thought he’s played okay for a guy still getting his feet wet in the league. His two points were both things of beauty.

I think my main grief with the new lineup are a) who gets demoted and b) we’ve already seen this trio before, and we know it doesn’t work. The Habs are in a rebuild. I’d much rather see Slafkovsky get those opportunities than Anderson. Heck, even Jesse Ylönen, who has been in the press box when not glued to the fourth line, deserves a more prominent role.

Anderson on the top line has happened several times before, and they always eventually go away from it again when they realize it doesn’t work. I don’t know what they expect to be different about it this time, especially with Anderson having such a down year. But only time will tell for sure, and Martin St. Louis knows a lot more about hockey than I do, so perhaps he’ll be proven right in the end.