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December: Josh Anderson on track to win the Molson Cup
Last night, the Canadiens began their long holiday journey, one that has historically gone badly for Montrealers.

But you know as well as I do: when you’re expecting the Habs, they don’t always show up… but when you’re not, they have a way of surprising you and winning.

Yesterday, away from the Bell Centre, they faced the club with the best points-per-game average in the Central Division (ahead of the Avalanche, Stars and Predators). The Jets had also won six of their last seven games prior to last night.

But Jake Allen – off to his second consecutive quality start – managed to score his first win in nearly two months… and the Habs left Manitoba (for Minnesota) early tonight with one more win on their record: 3-2 in overtime.

In spite of injuries to Dach, Newhook, Harris, Harvey-Pinard and company, the Tricolore is now just two points away from a playoff spot. And we’re approaching mid-season!

The most peevish among us would say that every victory takes us further away from our destiny: Cole Eiserman, Macklin Celebrini, Ivan Demidov… to which Kent Hughes would probably reply that the goal of playing meaningful games in March and April is more important for his group’s progress.

The Molson Cup to Josh Anderson?
Josh Anderson definitely seems to be back for real now.

He scored another goal – a lucky one, as the puck just hit him in the slot – and added a questionable assist (on a pass with his hand?) later in the game.

Regardless, Anderson had his second two-point game in a row, and that’s what counts. On Saturday, he found the back of the net on two plays that might well not have ended in a goal.

Call it puck luck, if you will. For a while, you’re doing great things that end in posts, great saves or blocked shots… then you start producing on very basic plays. You could also call it a return of the pendulum.

Perhaps the Montreal striker was right when he said he was counting on luck to break the deadlock last month.

Except that luck doesn’ t come by itself in professional sports. You have to create it, provoke it. And even if he wasn’t producing, Anderson kept skating, hitting, shooting and trying as hard as he could. That’s why Martin St-Louis kept him in the line-up all this time.

I always tell the young athletes I coach – and my two kids at home – that effort is the biggest prerequisite (along with attitude and respect) in sport. You won’t get anywhere without (maximum) effort.

It’s a bit like my atheist version of the good old help yourself and heaven help you.

An athlete – at any age – must be able to balance effort and pleasure. You can’t have one without the other.

On November 30, Josh Anderson threw down the gloves at the end of a match. The next game – his first in December – he picked up an assist. The next, a goal (in an empty net) and an assist.

In December, Anderson had 7 points in 8 games. That’s much better than his output in October and November.

Since the Habs are in desperate need of raw attacking talent – and with the three goalies constantly alternating – Josh Anderson is this morning’s frontrunner for the December instalment of the Molson Cup. I’m not kidding.

The Molson Cup is awarded to the team with the most points (3 for a first star, 2 for a second and 1 for a third) at the end of each month, and then overall at the end of the season.

Since Anderson was named first star on Saturday, and third star yesterday and on December 4 (against the Kraken), he has five points. He is followed by Nick Suzuki (4), Cayden Primeau and Sean Monahan (3), David Savard and Brendan Gallagher (2), and Cole Caufield and Joel Armia (1).

Still, it’s special to see Primeau in second place and Montembeault absent from this ranking…

A good start from Primeau this week and he could win the Cup… with only two games left!


The Canadiens have played seven of their 12 games this month. Let’s see if Josh Anderson can keep up the pace… if he’s back for real this time.


I wanted to tell you about the Jets, who don’t seem to miss Pierre-Luc Dubois too much, but I’ll stick with the Josh Anderson theme.

I know it’s tricky to say, but I think we got the ovation too easily with the latter.

On Thursday night, when he hadn’t beaten a goalie since March, he got a standing ovation at the Bell Centre. Anderson was on the verge of a shootout… and missed.

On Saturday, fans gave him a standing ovation after a two-goal game… in December. The player himself confessed that he could hardly hold back his tears.

I was happy for Anderson on Saturday night… but in my mind, ovations are reserved for extraordinary gestures. Not to Josh Anderson’s very average production.

A standing ovation for perseverance: OK… if it’s at school or in a special context. For an athlete paid $5.5 million a year to put it in more often than this season? I feel a little uneasy… which goes to show just how out of touch heroism is these days in Quebec.

There’s a balance between gratuitous booing and more or less well-deserved ovations. The same balance that allows us to criticize the play of Suzuki, Caufield and Slafkovsky when they’re not producing. #1erTrio

I understand the fact that we wanted to show him our support, collectively, but pity ovations – like last year’s for Jonathan Drouin in particular – I’d cross them off my script if I were writing a new TV series.

Maurice Richard had to do the impossible to get a standing ovation.

F*ck the pity ovations. We’ll give him a standing ovation in early January when he wins December’s Molson Cup.

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