MONTREAL – Standing in the way of a shot on goal is just part of a day’s work for a defenseman. It’s a thankless job that often goes unnoticed, except when the shot you’ve just blocked resonates throughout the arena.
Anyone questions of Josh Gorges
’ determination have long been erased. Passed over during the amateur drafts, he’s done everything necessary in his climb up the ladder to carve out his place in the NHL.
The prototypical unsung hero, the 24-year-old defenseman was greeted with chants of “Gorges, Gorges, Gorges” from the Bell Centre crowd on Tuesday against the Thrashers. Unlike Canadiens opponents, it was nothing but appreciation for Gorges, who once again willingly put his 6-foot-1, 202-pound frame between the puck and the net. With the Habs shorthanded midway through the third period, Slava Kozlov rifled a rocket aimed at Carey Price
. It would never reach the netminder, as Gorges stepped in and took the shot on the inside of his knee to make the save on the Thrashers forward.
“I wasn’t really worried about an injury. It was one of those shots that pinch you and you feel it for five or 10 minutes, but after you just rise above it,” explained the brave blue-liner. “The adrenaline just takes control and you don’t feel anything afterwards.”
Despite the evident pain and likely colorful bruise forming, Gorges soldiered on as he aimed to prevent the Thrashers from cutting into the Canadiens’ three-goal lead. Once back on the bench, the crowd recognized his heroics by chanting his name.
“It’s something I’ve noticed since I’ve been here,” he said. “Our fans respect effort and a good work ethic. We worked hard to kill off that penalty and that kept the momentum in our favor.”
They weren’t the only ones showing their appreciation. Sitting 20th in the NHL in blocked shots with 142 in 72 games, behind teammates Mike Komisarek (4th) and Roman Hamrlik (6th), Gorges also earned high marks from his head coach.
“Josh has shown courage and determination throughout the season, just as the whole team did Tuesday night against the Thrashers,” said Bob Gainey. “That particular situation, where it was quite clear he was in pain but the player demonstrated his desire to keep playing, is a good example of what we’re doing more and more in our games and people realize that.”
Regardless of the size of the bruise he now bears, not even Lightning can keep Gorges away from Thursday’s contest.Heather Engel is a writer for canadiens.com