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Canadiens Reasons To Use Josh Anderson On Top Line



Canadiens forward Josh Anderson

When the Montreal Canadiens revealed their lines prior to Saturday’s matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning, a familiar figure found himself on the top line.

Josh Anderson was given another kick at the can alongside Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield, in what can only be described as a re-hash of a failed experiment.

Before the game, his underlying numbers with the team’s two players were questionable, to say the least.

They had managed to control just a little over 35 percent of the shots during their shifts, not to mention a paltry 11.8 percent of the high-danger scoring chances, which resulted in a shockingly low expected goals for (xGF%) of just 22.4 percent.

In other words, there was little to no evidence the trio had formed any semblance of chemistry.

On Saturday night things got somewhat better.

They managed to push their xGF% to 25 percent.

Needless to say, it’s quite clear Anderson acts like an anchor on the top line, which leads to the question of why Martin St-Louis would bother re-assembling the line.

Spread The Wealth

One significant reason could be the Kirby Dach dilemma.

Or rather, the Kirby Dach solution.

Whenever Dach is placed on a line it tends to enjoy an immediate and significant uptick in possession numbers.

For example, when Dach is used with Suzuki and Caufield, they control over 50 percent of the shots, a stark contrast to the results with Anderson.

And the same phenomenon occurred on Saturday night.

Playing with Jonathan Drouin and Juraj Slafkovsky, Dach led his line to the best results of the night, controlling 75 percent of the shots and 66 percent of the high-danger chances.

It’s also worth remembering that despite his success on the top line’s wing, the Canadiens do want to develop Dach at his natural position: centre.

But more than that, there’s also the strong likelihood that Anderson’s presence on the top line could be a showcase to up his value on the trade market.

There has been significant interest in Anderson’s service on the NHL’s trade market since the start of the year, and in most cases, there’s no better way to improve potential returns than by playing your asset with your best playmaker and best goal-scorer.

But when it comes to Anderson, not only do Suzuki and Caufield play better in his absence, but so does Anderson.

He produces more and does so in a sustainable manner whenever he’s not forced into a top-line assignment.

If the Canadiens hope to improve his deadline value, they’d be better off leaving Anderson in the middle six, where he has enjoyed success in the past.

(All Josh Anderson and Montreal Canadiens statistics are 5v5 unless otherwise noted, via NaturalStatTrick)

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Why? Well that’s a valid question
While what you say is true it forgets how MSL started in MTL.

MSL first more in MTL was Anderson to top line LW.
Caufield went 16 goals and 25 points in 21 games
Suzuki had 20 points and Anderson had 16points in 21 games.

Anderson creates room
Issue is Dach breaks MTL into the OZ at the Blueline.
According to The Athletic he was one of the best in the NHL at it before landing in MTL but since then has become so much better at doing it.

If we had Chiarot or Lehkonen to break the Offensive Zone line still then fine but as of right now Dach’s the only one consistently capable of achieving it. I think Ghule’s ok at it but not great he’s better utilized passing to someone like Dach, Chiarot or Lehkonen who can break through the Defenders and take the punishment in stride

For MTL to be successfull we need either someone Allstar level like Karlsson who can break into the Offensive Zone with Ease. Otherwise there’s many options from Oleksiak to Klingberg who are also really good at busting in the Offensive Zone with a clean entry.

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