Josh Anderson, The Big Engine That Could

Josh Anderson might not boast the overall star power but he is the big-boy engine pushing the Blue Jackets forward.

Josh Anderson has been on a hot streak over the last few weeks, almost single-handidly — it kinda feels like — carrying the Blue Jackets on his back. No. 77 has set a career high with 24 goals and counting, and this is his first season with at least 40 points.

The 6’3”, 221 pound power forward, revving engine and all, brings a presence of bruising physicality, lighting speed, and a scorers touch. Which has come at an ample time during what was a Blue Jackets slump just on the other side of the trading deadline, and a team-wide offensive slump that busted with Anderson doing a lot of heavy lifting in a career-best performance, four point night, against the Bruins in a 7-4 win last Tuesday.

Some might say Artemi Panarin is Columbus’ best player with his elite game-breaking talent, Cam Atkinson for his scoring ability and overall maturation into a complete player, and those people are not wrong. But Anderson is tapping into another level. Andy’s 24 goals is third on the team, he’s top five in points (41), and is co-leading the club with 58 penalty minutes. He’s also just the second Blue Jackets player with at least 200 shots on goal (207) and his 11.6 shooting percentage ranks him top five on the Jackets.

John Tortorella said of Anderson last week “I’d like to see him lead the way, as far as how you play.”

Over this last week, including that 4-1 win against Pittsburgh last Saturday which Tortorella dropped that line about wanting to see Andy lead, he has six points (two goals, four assists) over the five games.

Josh Anderson with Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel 5v5

Player 1Player 2Player 3GPTOICFCACF%FFFAFF%SFSASF%GFGAGF%SCFSCASCF%HDCFHDCAHDCF%HDGFHDGAHDGF%On-Ice SH%On-Ice SV%PDOOff. Zone FaceoffsNeu. Zone FaceoffsDef. Zone FaceoffsOff. Zone Faceoff %
Josh AndersonRyan DzingelMatt Duchene1147:04495646.67404944.94323945.0740100303149.18131252.0030100.0012.501001.1251881554.55

Said Ryan Dzingel on Anderson: “He’s north-south and he’s always skating and makes it easy for us. Having a forecheck, no one wants to go back an get pucks.”

Josh Anderson with Nick Foligno and Boone Jenner 5v5

Player 1Player 2Player 3GPTOICFCACF%FFFAFF%SFSASF%GFGAGF%SCFSCASCF%HDCFHDCAHDCF%HDGFHDGAHDGF%On-Ice SH%On-Ice SV%PDOOff. Zone FaceoffsNeu. Zone FaceoffsDef. Zone FaceoffsOff. Zone Faceoff %
Josh AndersonBoone JennerNick Foligno61478:1345946949.4635335749.7226025750.29251759.5220820450.49827851.2517770.839.6293.391.03013723319541.27

I remember when Josh Anderson was holding out prior to the 2017-18 season and the message, from Torts, was put out there that the team was ready to roll on with, or without, Anderson as the season drew nearer. Obviously, the coaching staff has to say that. It was my second article for The Cannon that I included that bit.

We give flack to Tortorella for his player usage or frosty relationships that there seem to be with certain players. A frosty relationship that might be more attributed as outside perception. Like we saw more of an affectionate side for Anthony Duclair following his trade to the Senators. In Andy, we've seen the overall player on-the-ice maturation process play out, and with other certain players, for whatever reason, that hasn’t always been the case. Josh Anderson and John Tortorella weren’t necessarily heading the way of another player that held out a few years earlier, in Ryan Johansen, but there could have been that frostiness with Tortorella if things didn’t resolve just in time ahead of that season.

Purely speculative on my part, but just saying because certain players have thrived under Torts, and some haven’t.

The criticism for Anderson has been there, just like any player. But Anderson also told Torts before the season that he wanted more feedback, a weekly check-in. The scoring was coming but the mindset that there was more to give was still the common thought. And now the consistency has begun to set in during the Jackets’ most critical juncture of the season.

In that article Sept. 15 2017 article, I also included this at the time:

“The Jackets have just under $8 million in available cap space. Then, of course, there’s the ongoing Matt Duchene, will he be traded or not, saga. Duchene ended his own holdout Thursday. While GM Joe Sakic continues to evaluate possible trade scenarios, could this Anderson situation spill back into a potential Duchene addition? Stay tuned.

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