MONTREAL - In a season filled with ups and downs, there was perhaps no greater steadying presence in the Habs’ dressing room in 2008-09 than Josh Gorges
After posting career-highs across the board last year, the blue-liner will look to set the bar even higher this season.
When it comes to proving he belongs, no one knows more about the subject matter than Gorges. Signed as an undrafted free agent by San Jose in 2005-06, the often-underrated young veteran has worked his way up the Habs’ depth charts since his arrival in Montreal three years ago.
Heading into his fifth pro season, Gorges can now add experience to the trademark grit and versatility already in his bag of tricks. After starting the season penciled in on the second D pairing, Gorges watched as teammate and fellow defenseman Mike Komisarek went down with an injury in mid-November. The Kelowna native didn’t just fill in for the big blue-liner – he led the team in plus/minus and blocked shots in Komisarek’s absence.
Gorges led all Habs blueliners in plus-minus last season.
| ||GP ||+/- |
|Josh Gorges ||81 ||12 |
|Roman Hamrlik ||81 ||4 |
|Mike Komisarek ||66 ||0 |
|Andrei Markov ||78 ||-2 |
|Patrice Brisebois ||62 ||-3 |
|Francis Bouillon ||54 ||-7 |
|Ryan O'Byrne ||37 ||-7 |
|Mathieu Schneider ||67 ||-12 |
Averaging roughly 22:00 of ice time per game while pinch-hitting alongside perennial All-Star Andrei Markov
and not looking out of place on the top duo, Gorges didn’t just shut down the other teams’ top lines with his increased minutes; he added some uncharacteristic offense of his own.
Gorges did get a little help along the way, namely from his good buddy Carey Price
and the Habs’ goalie’s accomplice Tom Kostopoulos. Determined to help Gorges finally notch his first goal with the Canadiens, the duo cut up his stick into pieces and scattered it across the stands at the RBC Center in Carolina. While the snake-bitten rearguard didn’t score against the Hurricanes that night he finally did a few days later.
Lighting the lamp with his first goal of the season – and only the second of his career – on November 24 against the Islanders , the 6-foot-1 rearguard kept the ball rolling, finishing with four goals, 19 assists and 23 points and more than doubling his previous season-highs. He also closed out his breakout campaign a country mile ahead of his blue line peers, collecting a sparkling plus-12, just behind Alex Tanguay for the team lead.
Look for Gorges to continue his ascent this coming season and whatever he accomplishes in 2009-10, having him around will always be a "plus". Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com
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