I think it’s fair to say that Josh Anderson only has one play — taking the puck to the net — but is there anyone better at it? At least on this Montreal Canadiens team, the answer is no. Not even close.
What Anderson brings is truly unique and hard to find in the NHL. It’s not just the speed and the physicality, the way he can lean on defenders as he cuts inside, imposing his will over them. It’s also the intimidation factor, the fact that, when he is on the ice, the opposition has to respect his threat or suffer the consequences.
I’m willing to bet that Tampa Bay Lightning defencemen, when they stand in Montreal’s zone on the attack, keep track of #17 in bleu, blanc, et rouge more than the rest of Montreal’s players. They know that if they lose clear possession of the puck, he’s gone. They can’t make mistakes. They can’t fumble a reception like Yanni Gourde did because then it means a race the other way, one they probably won’t win. Which means they will have to battle with the ‘Powerhorse’ to at least move him off his net-drive angle. Not a fun experience.
Look at his pace, the alternating powerful forward strides and crossovers, providing short bursts of speed.
Jan Rutta did a good job to contain Anderson here. He pushed him off to the back-wall, but it didn’t matter. He is stubborn. A quick swing off the glass, a leap for the loose puck — that nicely mirrored Blake Coleman’s earlier in the series — and Montreal is going to Tampa for a Game 5.
This was an epic performance from the winger, another moment of a series of moments that will stay in the collective memory of Montreal fans for years to come, one that shows the value of Anderson, and why he deserves to be stuck with and highly regarded even through his inconsistencies.
His first goal lifted the team, giving it faith in a dire situation, and the second one.... Well, it validated the hopes.
The Tampa Bay Lightning can be beaten.
One game at a time.