Anderson appears ready to meet high expectations


BROSSARD, in Quebec. – Leave it to Claude Julien to offer us the perfect warning for this notebook on the first action game we have seen for the Montreal Canadiens this year.
“You don’t want to analyze it too much, because the reason you’re doing that is you want to give your guys a chance to get into game situations where they’re under pressure, where they have to make quick decisions. and all that, ”the coach began. ” What happens [Thursday], it’s not to criticize all the mistakes that have been made, because that’s what these scrums are for, is you’re trying to get your guys playing the right way, and the only way to do it. to do is to clear a path.

“There are going to be some mistakes, and the guys learn from these things and they get used to the pressure, and next time we face off, you hope it’s even smoother. There’s part of it that you just have to let them mingle.

So if you watch the highlights of Thursday’s intra-squad game and curse Joel Edmundson for a missed zone exit, take a breath.

Still, there were things we saw that we found worthy of analysis.

Josh Anderson looks like Josh Anderson

It was anything but obvious that Josh Anderson would be sprinting out of the gate.

He was limited to 26 games last season due to a shoulder injury – he played most of them injured and looked nothing like the player who scored 27 goals the year before – and he is last appeared in a game in December 2019.

But after saying Wednesday that he didn’t even think about his shoulder anymore and felt 100% healthy, Anderson performed 100% Thursday and looked a lot like his old self.

Boy, it’s something to watch him skate on the wing in mid-flight.

Anderson is six foot three inches and 226 pounds, and he moves like a guy half his height.

Not that anyone should be surprised by this. Speed ​​is the main feature of Anderson’s game.

That, combined with his physique and touch of goal, is what makes him one of the most unique forwards in the NHL.

And it’s obvious Anderson can’t wait to show he’ll be that player in Montreal. As Tyler Toffoli said on Wednesday, “Anyone watching the practice, the highlights and everything that is going on there, they can tell he’s got a jump in his step.

You could definitely see it in that first game.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi looks confident and aggressive

Just like he did in the playoffs several months ago, Jesperi Kotkani did very well in this game.

The chemistry between him and Joel Armia remains intact, but it is also certainly building between him and Tyler Toffoli, as the two have combined for one goal.

It was Kotkaniemi who scored, following Toffoli’s net drive and pushing a rebound in front of Carey Price.

Toffoli also had one on the power play, a nice shot that Jonathan Drouin set up for him.

Anyway… back to Kotkaniemi. The six-foot-two, 201-pound Finn has been tough on the forward chess, throwing several chess and battling on the wall and in the corners.

You get the feeling that Kotkaniemi realized during his bubble experience that physically engaging will be essential to give himself the space he needs to showcase his skills.

Julien agrees.

“It definitely helps her, especially with her height,” Julien said of Kotkaniemi. “He’s a great player who’s pretty strong, and I look at the goal he scored in net today on a second effort and that physical play got him into the playoffs. So I think he continues to rely on that element. He is very capable of being physical.

Kotkaniemi is also very capable of shooting the puck, which his teammates and coaching staff would love to see him do more often, as Gallagher alluded to earlier this week.

Canadiens goalie Jake Allen had the line of the day when we asked him if any of the Canadiens’ shooters caught him so far in camp.

“Kotkaniemi,” Allen says. “I can’t pronounce his name yet, but his shooting is on the next level. This kid has an absolute wrister missile.

Jake Evans in the 4th slot

With the way the Canadiens arranged their rosters for the scrum, their fourth row consisting of Paul Byron-Jake Evans -Arturri Lehkonen joined Victor Mete, Price and the AHL-related taxi team / players in the Whites.

What was compelling was seeing Evans’ roster against Phillip Danault, Tomas Tatar and Gallagher, if only because Evans did really well in the game.

Progress has been steady for him since he was drafted 207th overall in 2014 – from his years at Notre Dame to his two seasons with the AHL Laval Rocket to his limited action with Montreal last year. . His speed helped help the Canadiens in the playoffs and he’s looked even faster in camp this year.

If Evans started with an advantage in the competition for a fourth-row center position, he maintains it.

Evans got the better of Danault in the face-off circle more than once or twice in this scrum. This is where he can play a big role in this team this season, being the only right-handed center among the 12 forwards who are expected to be in the starting lineup.

Evans was over 51 percent in point in 13 regular-season games with the Canadiens last season, but he was just under 45 percent in his six games in the bubble. Julien said on Wednesday that he wanted to rely on him to draw a few draws in the defensive zone and give Danault a break wherever he can, so it will be vital for Evans to be good in that department.

Paul Byron serving notice

We don’t blame you for thinking that.

Watching the Canadiens add Michael Frolik and Corey Perry to a loaded squad on the wing and against the NHL salary cap, we know it got you wondering what they were going to do with Byron, and we fully understand. Why.

Byron is a player with three years left with a contract that counts for $ 3.4 million a year against the cap, a 20-goal double scorer who has just finished a difficult season that has certainly been affected by a downturn in the door and a three-month recovery. from a knee injury, and it’s natural to think he gets paid so much to take a place on the fourth row.

By calculating the numbers and trying to figure out how the Canadians will comply with the cap and avoid losing players like Frolik or Perry or Mete to waivers, it is easy to conclude that Byron’s move could provide the flexibility that the Canadiens have. need.

But it’s just as easy to overlook the value Byron brings to Canadians, and we would caution against the idea of ​​GM Marc Bergevin simply trying to dump his place for the cap.

Byron is an assistant captain, a player at heart and soul, and he’s one of the most versatile members on the roster.

Knowing this, we asked Julien on Wednesday if he intended to use Byron as he always has.

We weren’t really surprised by his response.

“I don’t see any reason why his role should be different,” Julien began. “If he could have been a Swiss Army Knife player before, there is no reason that he cannot yet. His game has not changed, his skating is still the same. And again, injuries sometimes slow you down in a season, but he’s pretty healthy right now. He seems to be doing pretty well. Watching him skate, I don’t see any problem.

“As for how it’s going to be used, I think we have to wait and see how this season goes and what happens. I adapt to everyday life, whether there are injuries or non-injuries, if a guy is playing well, if a guy is struggling. I’m adjusting, so I can’t define his role right now because that’s what it’s going to be. But one thing we love is that we talked about his ability to play center as well, he’s a versatile player and he’s played all three positions up front.

Now Julien didn’t say this because he intended to start Byron at the center, although several people jumped to that conclusion when we tweeted these comments on Wednesday.

Julien said it just to bolster a Byron player’s versatility, and he was hinting at a point he made earlier in his Zoom talk about being able to count on Byron at center in case the one of Nick Suzuki, Kotkaniemi, Danault or Evans is injured.

From the wing, Byron’s speed gave some of the Canadiens’ best players on Thursday.

And we don’t know if Byron is as worried about his job security as some fans think he is, but he made a statement in the opening minutes of this game – blocking Edmundson’s shot and storming his own. blue line before taking Allen out with a forehand goal to put the white team 1-0.

Jonathan Drouin spins and milks

We thought Drouin was the best player on the ice on Thursday.

You can see the chemistry he built with Suzuki in the bubble transfer to the practices we’ve seen so far and the game that took place on Thursday.

He has made breathtaking plays.

Drouin also did this to score the winner of the match:


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