The Montreal Canadiens are in the thick of training camp, and their second preseason game is set for Wednesday night against Atlantic Division, Canadian rival the Ottawa Senators. A game that should be full of fireworks, and unfortunately they will be without one of their most consistent players through camp, and a guy that would have certainly helped weather the Senators’ storm of enforcers in their lineup tonight. That player is Josh Anderson, who hasn’t just been the best player for one game, but he has consistently stood out for the Canadiens.
Hopefully, this is an early indication of what is to come, because Anderson has been flying around the rink while exhibiting his trademark physical and cerebral style. His skill set has never been the question, it’s the consistency. He can absolutely take games over, and when he is on, he rushes the puck and looks like a Mack Truck along the boards.
He has been one of the main options for the top line with Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki, but a new addition has seemed to gel with him quite well. Acquired in the offseason from the Colorado Avalanche, Alex Newhook has formed somewhat of a nice duo alongside Anderson, and their speed has been noticeable. It’s only a small sample size, but the chemistry is reminiscent of that of longtime linemates.
Will Alex Newhook Unlock Anderson’s Offence?
Anderson hasn’t played poorly with the Canadiens, not by any means, but given the total package that he possesses, it seems as though there is another level that he can reach. He hasn’t been able to match his career-best 27-goal total in 2018-19 with the Columbus Blue Jackets, with his next highest 21 coming last season. If he and Newhook can form a nice duo, the pair will look to have their best seasons to date.
Newhook has a chip on his shoulder, and Anderson is the type of player to run through a brick wall for his team. The pair are intense on the forecheck, and their speed makes them annoying to play against on the backcheck. Both players could stand to shoot the puck more, and once the third puzzle piece is set for the line, the could be a great complimentary piece for the top six.
The game has transitioned into a fast skating, quick decision-making style, and speed kills, which is exactly why Anderson and Newhook look like a nice fit early on. Both guys had frustrating seasons in ‘22-‘23 and will look to hit the ground running when the puck drops in the regular season, just as they have during their lone exhibition game. I expect if these two stick together, they could bring the best out of each other.
With Dach and Suzuki centering the top two lines, Newhook could slot into the third center role and the offensive skill will be spread nicely throughout the lineup. Sure Suzuki’s line is the first line, but Dach’s line and Newhooks could see similar ice time, with extra available on the special teams units, almost a 2A-2B style. Getting two players going during the preseason could pay huge dividends for the Canadiens this season.
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