MONTREAL – When Michel Therrien took over behind the Habs bench, his first order of business was to instill a new team concept in the Canadiens’ dressing room. It was an easy sell for Josh Gorges.
“For a player like myself, individual success is based on how the team does. I’m not a stats guy,” underlined Gorges when asked to evaluate his own performance throughout the 2012-13 campaign. “I’m not a guy who’s going to put up [big] numbers to define my season; it’s how the team does.”
The 28-year-old blue-liner may not be interested in showing off his stats, but his numbers were impressive nonetheless.
Since breaking into the NHL as a rookie nine years ago, Gorges has never hesitated to sacrifice himself for the good of the team – and he has the puck marks imprinted on his shin pads to prove it. Since his arrival in Montreal in 2006-07, the Kelowna, BC native has blocked an incredible 871 shots in 398 games.
In the past four years, he’s finished as the team’s leading shot-blocker three times, failing to earn top spot in 2010-11 when his season was cut short due to a knee injury. In 2012-13, he threw himself in front of 116 opposing shots, 56 more than No.2-ranked Andrei Markov in that category. On a more global scale, Gorges finished seventh in the NHL in blocked shots this season, ceding the crown to Dan Girardi after leading the league with an astounding 250 blocks last year.
Despite his willingness to put his body on the line, Gorges still finished the season as one of just six Habs players to take part in every single game for the Canadiens this year. Once again, the stalwart rearguard was a force on the penalty kill, leading the team in shorthanded minutes per game, with 3:13. His PK workload was almost a full minute more per game than the team’s second-busiest penalty killer, Jeff Halpern’s 2:17/night.
Gorges was just as reliable at the other end of the ice this season, picking up two goals and seven assists to go with a plus-4 differential in 48 games.
Despite helping the team reverse its fortunes with an impressive regular season, it’s the way the year ended that Gorges will remember well into the summer.
“In the regular season, we were good – really good,” he admitted. “Come playoff time, we fell short. That lies on me; that lies on the older guys, the veteran guys and the leadership group. We have to be better.”
Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Shauna Denis.
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