OTTAWA – Some defensemen might have crumbled under the weight of facing 10 penalty kills in a single night. Josh Gorges played the game of his life.
It’s impossible to discuss the group of young players at the core of the Canadiens’ future without shining a light on Josh Gorges. The definition of a team player, the 27-year-old blue liner has built his reputation on sacrificing his body for the good of the group. With winning as his only goal, Gorges is a never a player who is accused of giving anything less than 100%
While he may have been quick to downplay the achievements of his night’s work after a disappointing overtime loss for the Canadiens, the fact remains that Josh Gorges’ defensive efforts on Friday night nearly equaled those of the entire Senators’ squad combined.
“Tonight was a battle. It was one of those nights that was going to be fought in the trenches in front of the net and along the boards. Those are the fun games to play, but we’re obviously disappointed with the outcome,” confessed Gorges who finished his night with six hits and 10 blocked shots – only one less than Sens’ team effort of 11, and only four less than Ottawa goaltender Ben Bishop turned aside.
“It was tough to get into a rhythm for both sides, I think. It was power play after power play after power play and you can’t get into a flow that way,” continued the NHL’s leading shot-blocker who also posted a career-high in that category Friday night. “Guys have a hard time finding their pace because they’re not playing and just sitting on the bench. These kinds of games are tough for that reason. We have to be better and more disciplined obviously. When you’re killing that many penalties you have the opportunity to get those blocks.”
Thanks to his output against the Sens, Gorges is well on pace to break the Canadiens’ franchise record for blocked shots in a single season. With 10 games to play and 212 blocked shots already to his credit, it would appear only a matter of time before Gorges tops the mark of 227 set by Mike Komisarek in 2007-08.
“Our penalty kill was absolutely incredible tonight. We got 10 penalties and you had guys like Gorges out there getting the job done. Same thing with Emelin,” praised forward David Desharnais of his team’s defensive efforts. “All the guys that were killing penalties for us along with Carey were amazing.”
After going nine consecutive games notching at least one point, the line of Desharnais, Paciortetty and Cole were finally kept off the scoresheet Friday night. The Habs’ lone goal came from the penalty kill unit and a superb shorthanded push from Tomas Plekanec.
“I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat it – When you put on this jersey, you have to be ready to give everything you can – to go to war. I think everybody in this room did just that tonight,” finished Desharnais. “Now it’s just a solid two hours on the bus like in the good old days. We’ll find a way to be ready to tomorrow night.”Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
Notebook - March 15, 2012