MONTREAL - It’s no question that losing Andrei Markov
in the first game of the season is a tough blow to the Canadiens’ blue line, but Josh Gorges
has already pulled up his socks to fill in for the injured All-Star.
Doing his part to keep the puck out of the Habs’ net, Gorges has been throwing his body in the line of fire more than any other player in the league. Topping the NHL leaderboard with 14 blocked shots in just four games, Gorges is one of four Montreal defensemen to crack the top 15 in that category so far this year. Rounding out the Canadiens’ quartet of defenseman in that exclusive group are Jaroslav Spacek with 10 and Paul Mara and Hal Gill with seven apiece.
Patrolling the blue line for an average of 22:17 minutes a game, Gorges ranks second among Habs defenseman in time on ice behind power play specialist Spacek’s 24:31. In four games, the 25-year-old has bumped up his workload by 2:10 per game since last year.
Few stats are more near and dear to the hearts of defensemen than plus-minus differential. Gorges is quickly making a name for himself for his “positivity” after leading all Habs D-men in that category last season and doing the same so far this year with his plus-3 rating leading the team and placing him 11th in the league among all players, not just defensemen.
Gorges has also chipped in offensively through four games his season with an assist and of course his overtime winner against the Leafs in Toronto on opening night. It took Gorges seven games to notch his first point last season, with the young rearguard going on to post a career-high 23 points in 2008-09.
With two of his three multi-point games having come against Toronto over the course of his NHL lifetime, Gorges has become a definite thorn in the side of the Maple Leafs. With his ice-time and responsibilities certain to grow in the absence of Markov, Gorges may be adding more teams to his hit list. Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Shauna Denis and Manny AlmelaSee also"The Streak is On!" contestBulldogs Report - Oct. 7, 2009 Habs ink Marc-André Bergeron to a one-year contract