Battalion Breakdown is a closer look at the Blue Jackets' past season on a player-by-player basis. Today, BlueJackets.com continues the series by looking at Josh Anderson's season and how it impacted Columbus in the 2018-19 campaign.
Birth date: May 7, 1994
Height/Weight: 6-3, 221
Position: Right wing
Stats (Games, G-A-P, point shares): 82 GP, 27-20-47, 6.2 PS
Contract: Signed through 2019-20 season (RFA)
It feels like Josh Anderson plays 1999 hockey in 2019.
In an NHL that has been getting faster and smaller by the year, Anderson is one of the rarest of commodities: Big and fast.
He feels, in some ways, like a throwback to a different era, when size ruled and players didn't dare come across the middle of the ice with their heads down for fear of what might happen.
But in an NHL where the average player size has settled in at near 200 pounds, Anderson stands out as a power forward. It's not just because of his size, but because of his unique combination of skills. He can skate like the wind, he throws checks at an impressive rate, and he scores at a rate that puts him among the best in the NHL at 5-on-5.
The big winger famously chafes at comparisons to Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson, but in some ways they are apt, as the two are among the best remaining in the NHL at combining physical presence with a high-level scoring ability.
"They're very similar players, and (Wilson) had a major effect on that team in Washington," head coach John Tortorella said late in the season. "I think Andy has done that here. He's ignited the way we play. … It's such a fast game, but it's a no-hit league. Andy is willing to hit. You can see how effective it is."
Entering the season: Coming off a 2017-18 season that included 19 goals in 63 games plus a red-hot start, Anderson was one of the Blue Jackets players expected to take a step forward. With his combination of attributes and the fact he was entering his age 24 season, it made sense that Anderson could improve on his numbers as he kept gaining experience at the NHL level, and he figured to be a key winger for the Blue Jackets for much of the season.
What happened: Indeed, it was a different and better Anderson, who set career highs in goals, assists, points and plus-minus.
In fact, Anderson's per-game goal and point totals have gone up every season he's been in the NHL, showing a player who keeps getting better the more experience he gets - and someone who might not have yet reached his ceiling considering he keeps putting the pieces of his game together.
From the start of the season, it was clear Anderson was reaching a new level, as the former London Knights standout scored in four of the first six games and also tallied seven times in the first 12 games. He was prone to streaks throughout the season when it came to goal scoring, as he tallied seven times in 11 games from Jan. 31-Feb. 22 and also posted a 4-5-9 line in six games from March 12-24.
If there was any complaint, it was in the realm of consistency, as the hot streaks occasionally gave way to stretches where Anderson was kept off the scoresheet. To Tortorella, that's the next big step in Anderson's game, as making sure he stays consistent on a night-in, night-out basis.
"I think that I had a good year but obviously there's a lot of room for improvement," Anderson said. "Hopefully I'll come back next year and be ready to go and have another good year."
In addition to his scoring prowess, Anderson brought a lot to the table. He was a key part of the line with Nick Foligno and Boone Jenner that Tortorella went back to on a regular basis as trio that helped set the Blue Jackets' identity. He was tied for 13th in the NHL and sixth among forwards with a plus-24 rating, while placing 19th in the NHL with 214 hits, most on the CBJ.
One of Anderson's best games came when the Blue Jackets needed it most. With Columbus' season on the brink on March 24 in Vancouver, with the team having lost three in a row and on the wrong side of the playoff bar, Anderson tallied twice as the Jackets pounded Vancouver by a 5-0 score. The win kicked off seven wins in eight games to finish the season, and Anderson tallied the opening goal that night in Cascadia to kick off the Blue Jackets' drive to the postseason.
Video: CBJ@VAN: Anderson beats Demko with wicked wrister
By the Numbers
22: 22 of Anderson's goals were scored at even strength, a mark that placed him tied for 38th in the NHL in the category.
3: Only three players in the top 25 in hits in the NHL finished with at least 20 goals: Anderson, Alexander Ovechkin (51 goals, 223 hits) and Blake Coleman (22 goals, 225 hits).
82: Despite his physical style of play, Anderson was one of four Blue Jackets to play in every game in 2018-19.