Friday, 9 August 2013

Josh Gorges cannot bulk up by 10-15 pounds

A couple of thoughts on Josh Gorges, who's taking some abuse by fans due to his less-than-inspired 2013 campaign:

1)  Again, the notion that Josh Gorges can put on appreciably more muscle is a pipe dream.  Josh Gorges is not a skinny fat kid who can fill in and add 10-15 pounds of muscle on his frame.  He's a grown man, he's as big as he's going to get, he's mature physically.  Further, he trains diligently with his Kelowna Rockets buddies in the off-season, guys like Shea Weber and Nolan Yonkman.  Carey Price joins them for some of their summer regimen.  So we have to realize that he's not an untrained athlete who can make astonishing gains by hitting the gym seriously, he's already close to peak ability, any gains will be incremental.

Usually, hockey players do a lot of off-season training, but then the grind of the season undoes a lot of that work.  As I've written before, when a player says that he's put on "ten pounds of pure muscle" over the off-season, a lot of that is just normal recuperation that would happen if he just sat on the couch for three months.  So six or eight of those ten pounds are muscles taking on more water and glycogen because they're having the opportunity to replenish, the final few pounds are legit.

I'll repeat that Josh isn't noodling around, he's working hard in the gym, under the supervision of a personal trainer who's highly qualified.  He's not wasting his time, and there are no low-hanging fruits.  It's not like he's training wrong, and if he changed his routine he could pack on ten pounds easily.  Josh is aware that bigger and stronger would be to his advantage, he'd get there if he could.

We can wish Josh was bigger, but not that he would train any harder.  He's doing everything possible to be as fit and strong as he can be.  If he shows up at camp one year ten pounds heavier, and it's not due to cheeseburgers, I'm checking his phone to see if he has BioGenesis on speed-dial.

Josh Gorges is a 6'1", 200 lbs defenceman, that's who he is.

2)  Guys like Josh who block a lot of shots aren't just effective when they actually block one, it's all the other shots that don't happen because they're in the frickin' way.  It happens all the time, you're a defenceman at the blue line in the offensive zone, you get a hold of the skittering puck that someone tried to clear out of the zone off the boards, and by the time you've settled it down and taken a step to the inside and looked up, there's a forward bearing down on you.  So you give a head bob and a half windup, and that makes him square up and coast in, you go further in and draw back again, but now a dman has gotten in the lane and you can't see the net, so you try to change the shot angle but by now the forward is right on top of you, and your defence partner is covered so you can't deal him the puck, so now you kind of flip the puck in the corner in a panic, and hope your winger can get it back.  And the shot blockers have done their job.

At least that's the way it would work for me, I didn't quite have the Guy Lapointe or Andrei Markov moves.  And that's how the Hal Gills and Josh Gorges change the game, it's by routinely being in the right position to be able to block the shot, and forcing another play.

When I was playing minor hockey, we were told/taught not to try to block shots, to let the goalie handle it, he had the padding on, that's his job.  If we tried to block, we'd just screen him, and possibly cause a deflection.  Still, I'd sometimes be scrambling to get back in position and see a guy wind up, and I'd lunge at the puck with a skate or my stick as it whistled by, and yeah, often it would end up in my net.

Nowadays, the equipment for d-men is much better, so they can absorb the impact of the puck, something it couldn't do for me twenty years ago, when I broke a bone in my foot taking a slapshot on my skate.  They can be a little bit braver.

Also, goalies now play the butterfly, the percentages, they're not 'reaction' goalies like before, who would see the puck and stack the pads.  Now they try to get in the right position, come out so as to cut down the angles as best they can, flare out their big pads and hide as much of the net as possible.  Sure, a d-man trying to block a shot can screen them or deflect a puck into the net, but more likely he'll deflect off to the side.  A deflection that carries through to the net is again more likely to hit the goalie than find open net.

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