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Josh Anderson turns in an eye opening debut for Montreal

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The former Blue Jacket wasted little time justifying his acquisition by the Canadiens.

Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

Losing is never fun, less fun in overtime, and perhaps the least amount fun when it’s against the Toronto Maple Leafs. But such a loss is much easier to swallow early on in a delayed season — one with zero preparatory games to precede it — and when there are more things to be excited than upset about that come from it.

In particular, Josh Anderson is someone to be very excited about.

When Marc Bergevin acquired Anderson for Max Domi — and a third-round pick — it raised some eyebrows predominantly due to the fact that Anderson had scored just one goal the year prior. Was he worth the price, or did Marc Bergevin sell off assets for a bag of magic beans?

Well, he doubled that 2019-20 goal total in one night, displaying a wide array of abilities in the process. His speed, strength, and shot were all on full display as he made quick work of any doubt surrounding his acquisition, and appears well on his way to justifying Bergevin’s decision.

His first goal was a beautiful catch and shoot scenario.

That release is lightning quick, and what I like the most is that he doesn’t try to get fancy and shoot up high. Instead, he shoots to the lower far side where he knows the goaltender is much less able to cover. It’s an intelligently placed, hard shot that almost any goaltender would have trouble getting in front of.

His second goal was equally, if not more impressive.

That happens to be John Tavares that he blows past, and outmuscles to get to the net, not just anyone. This is the type of play we’ve seen few Canadiens players able to execute in recent memory. If this is also something we can expect him to do regularly, he’ll be an incredibly welcome addition to this team.

When you consider how quickly he has formed chemistry with linemates Nick Suzuki and Jonathan Drouin, there is a lot to be excited about. That line looks like it can do serious damage, and they’ve only training camp, an intra-squad game, and one NHL game under their belts. Give them more time, and they could become the linchpin of this team’s success.

Montreal managed to be one of the best possession teams in the league last year, and the reason they finished as low as they did in the standings was due in large part to an inability to finish. This line could be the remedy to that problem, and if last night is any indication, Anderson will be the focal point when it comes to scoring.

This should take nothing away from Suzuki or Drouin, I should note, as they both played excellent games of their own. As a unit, they controlled 60.87% of shot attempts at even-strength when on the ice, head and shoulders above the other lines of the Canadiens. If the Phillip Danault line is the de facto “first” line, this unit is about as good of a 1A as you could possibly ask for.

With how good Anderson looked as part of that 1A trio, time will tell, but Marc Bergevin may have pulled off another masterful trade.