Denis Gurianov had the only goal on the night for the Montreal Canadiens as they fell to the New Jersey Devils. Jonathan Drouin hit the goal post with the goalie pulled to tie it. The final count was 3-1 Devils as Montreal’s losing skid is now six.
Every single game for about a month, Josh Anderson should have scored two or three goals. He’s had open looks, breakaways. His rushes have been impressive.
He’s playing some of the best hockey of his career. Head Coach Martin St. Louis felt that he could teach Anderson how to be a smarter hockey player to achieve more. He was right.
Anderson looks like a different player this season. He uses his body like he always has. He forechecks with the same effectiveness. However, what is different is how Anderson is finding open space at a much better level than he has in his career.
Anderson suddenly has figured out how to get open. He is reading the play much better. He is, along with Mike Matheson, the most improved Canadiens player from two or three seasons ago. It’s not close. Those two completely stand out in the past month.
Anderson has 19 goals on the season behind only Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki. That is an outstanding contribution from Anderson. One more goal and it will be Anderson’s second best season in his career. He had 27 in 2018-19.
If he can score four or five more in the final quarter of the season to finish with around 25, he would be an attractive get for a club looking for a power forward to bring them a step closer to the Stanley Cup.
General Manager Kent Hughes has apparently turned down a first round draft pick already for Anderson. Anderson is playing like that value will go higher at the draft as Hughes looks for a third first rounder to go with his own and Florida’s.
It should be interesting. For the long term success of the club, it should be a deal that Hughes makes to get a seven year asset for Anderson who will be heading to the downside of his career when the Canadiens finish their rebuild.
Although this was hardly the most entertaining game, the Canadiens held their own again against one of the best teams in the league. This week, Montreal took both the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers to overtime, and on Saturday night, they gave the Devils a scare.
That’s a formidable trio of opponents for a team that is more Laval Rocket than Montreal Canadiens. Credit to the players for their competitive fire. The record says winless in six, but there’s been no shame whatsoever to any of it.
The news today that Kirby Dach skated before practice was deceptively important. The Case Of Kirby Dach is one for the Hardy Boys series. It would be nice if it were solved.
Dach left the line-up initially for what the Canadiens called a non-Covid upper body illness. This used to be what we called a cold, or the flu. Now it needs that preface of non-Covid for clarity to ensure that no one frets that a contagion is going to go through the room that could sideline many players.
About five days later, Dach had not returned to the line-up. That was strange. Usually, a cold doesn’t take a player out for a week at the NHL level. As media and fans, we waited patiently. We wanted more clarity.
Instead, what we got was another chapter of mystery for the Sherlock Holmes types. The upper-body illness became a lower body injury. The problem moved. That’s odd. Even odder is what was thought of as a virus became skeletal.
Don’t look for any answers here. Injuries are muscles, and tendons and bones. Colds don’t mutate into torn muscles.
As a result, if the problem can’t be understood, all one hopes for is that the problem goes away. Saturday morning, we could see that the lower body injury had healed enough for Dach to be able to skate.
That’s all that matters when there is absolutely no clarity: Can he skate? Can he play hockey? That he can says that Dach is going to be fine, eventually.
He’s on the ice and the clock is now ticking to his return. Whatever the injury was, it’s now going in the right direction. Now, all we seek is a return date. It’s been almost a month already.
It would be nice to learn one day how all of this illness to injury evolved, but if we don’t know, then allow for privacy. As long as he is back on the ice, that is all that matters.
Brian Wilde, a Montreal-based sports writer, brings you Call of the Wilde on globalnews.ca after each Canadiens game.