In 2020, Josh Anderson sat in the press box recuperating from a shoulder injury as the Columbus Blue Jackets upset the Toronto Maple Leafs in the play-in round of the postseason. The year before that the Blue Jackets pulled off a stunning upset of the Tampa Bay Lightning, where Jon Cooper remarked that he had no answer for Anderson’s style of play.
Fast forward to Thursday night, and 12 minutes into the first period it was Anderson galloping through the neutral zone and burying the first Habs goal of the playoffs. It was quintessential Anderson, darting through the middle of the ice with speed, collecting a perfect lead pass from Eric Staal and leaving the defence behind him. As he broke in on Jack Campbell he patiently out-waited the Leafs netminder, and rifled a perfect shot off the post to give Montreal the lead.
Anderson wasn’t just brought in for his goal-scoring, he was brought in because brings a physical force that can help make a difference when the playoffs roll around. Look no further than his early run-in with Wayne Simmonds where he wiped out the Leafs tough guy as the Leafs attempted to exit their own zone.
Josh Anderson is not a perfect player, no one is saying that, but he is also exactly the kind of player to help push teams to greater postseason success. Like I said above, Anderson saw what kind of team can beat Toronto last year, and was part of one that broke down an elite Tampa Bay team. This is his moment to shine in a Habs uniform.
The Canadiens were counting on the PowerHorse to show up like he did in Game 1. Josh Anderson did that in spades, and after a physical, hard-fought affair they’ll be asking for more of the same when Game 2 starts. It isn’t always the prettiest looking style, but it’s hard to deny that when Josh Anderson gets going, he gets results for Montreal.