Big Josh Anderson with speed. The greatest five words in sports.
Those are words we've been missing out on in recent weeks, though. Anderson, a 27-goal-scorer a year ago, is off to a slow start this season - like many of his Columbus Blue Jacket teammates.
Anderson, however, is one of the more valuable forwards, and players for that matter, on the club. His two points through eight games to start the campaign is a bit discouraging, but his head coach believes to have identified the issue plaguing his power forward.
"There's a struggle with him right now. I think he's forgotten who he is," said John Tortorella on "Timeout with Torts" with Bob McElligott on Monday. Sometimes, when you have success like he did last year, you change your game because you think you're something that you're not."
More specifically, Tortorella pointed to what exactly the identity is that Anderson has possibly attempted to bring onto himself. Anderson is a bruising forward who plays his best skating vertically up the ice and using his speed and large frame to make scoring chances happen.
The success Tortorella mentioned was very real for Anderson last year. The then-24-year-old put up career highs in goals, assists and points (27-20-47). This season, though, the 27 goals from 2018-2019 might be in his head a bit, along with the constant comparisons to a division rival and league 'enforcer' Tom Wilson, known for his bruising style, but more so for cheap hits.
It's possible Anderson wanted to rid that connection altogether.
"He's such an important guy for us this year. Look what he did with (the Tampa Bay Lightning in the postseason). He was a force that way playing in straight lines. When Josh starts going east-west and starts toe-drag(ing) and trying to handle the puck too much instead of pushing it ahead and going (to) chase it, he turns into a player that's struggling...and that's where he's at right now."
Despite the struggle to start the year, though, Tortorella believes in his young, budding star. In fact, he called him a future one, himself.
"There's a guy (Anderson) who I think is going to be a star in this league. I really do...and that's part of my job is to make sure I let him know who he is, and I do think he'll get back on track."
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