Sunday Player Profile: Mike Cammalleri

When I was thinking about who to do my first Sunday profile about, several players ran through my head as a viable candidate. Scott Gomez, who made news this week with the whole Sergei Kostitsyn fight / Andrei Markov stabbing debacle and who has been incredibly consistent as a 1st line center for the Habs... Tomas Plekanec, who until last night led the Canadiens in scoring and seems to have turned over a new leaf as a player, even Brian Gionta, who many are predicting will be the next captain of the Montreal Canadiens.

But after last night's 5-4 overtime victory over the New York Rangers, it only felt right that the player to be "profiled" today should be Mike Cammalleri.

In last night's game, Mike Cammalleri tallied 3 goals and an assist, including the overtime game winner in order to lift the Habs over the Rangers. And while, for the third straight game, the Canadiens' victory was a team victory, with many players contributing, you can't help but give at least a portion of the credit to Cammalleri. He didn't and doesn't carry the team on his shoulders, not by any means, but he's a very important part of this new look version of the Montreal Canadiens, and a very important part of any success that this organization plans to have over the next few seasons.

And before talking more about Cammalleri and his early contributions to the team, credit has to be given to Maxim Lapierre and Matt D'Agostini last night, who worked hard and didn't quit until the goal was scored on Lunqvist last night for D'Agostini's first. Credit also has to be given to M-A Bergeron, who scored another sick goal for the second game in a row to give new life to the Canadiens in the second after the Rangers had made it 4-2. Finally, credit has to be given to the combination of Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez, who, along with Cammalleri, created a ton of chances on the ice every time they were on a shift, and practically gave Cammy his first goal.

But enough about other players. Cammalleri won the game last night on a goal he created all by himself in overtime, beating the entire Rangers line-up and sniping it top corner past Lunqvist. His second period goal came on a nice pass from Tomas Plekanec, once again roofing it past King Henrik. His first goal was a result of perfect position on a goal created by a great play from Gomez to Gionta to, finally, the wide open Cammalleri in the slot. Not to mention his first assist on Bergeron's cannon of a goal on the powerplay.

And while Cammalleri deserves all the credit in the world for what he accomplished last night, his first hat trip and first four point night as a Montreal Canadien, what he brings to the team is so much more than the ability to score goals.

Cammalleri started the season with a two assist night against Toronto, and proceeded to add two more assists until he got his first goal of the season against Ottawa six games in. Cammalleri has a passing touch that many people had forgotten about, and he's shown it here early in the season.

In Calgary, he was constantly being fed the puck for one-timers and he benefited from it, scoring a career high 39 goals in his only season as a Flame. Admittedly, as a fan in the eastern conference, I didn't get to see much of him as a King, but his stats in Los Angeles definitely indicated that he was a sniper as well, potting 26 goals in the post-lockout season, his first full season in the league, and 34 goals the season after that. He missed 19 games in his last season as a King but still managed 19 goals.

Here are his full career stats:

It's only natural to see him as a sniper. However, having been able to watch him thoroughly through the first 10 games as a season, it's clear as day that Cammalleri can create plays and chances like some of the best playmakers in the league. And he's certainly benefiting playing on a line with two other players who can both create plays AND score goals with Gionta and Gomez.

And despite his impressive start to the season, Cammalleri seems to be the least talked about player amongst the many free agent signings Bob Gainey made this past summer. Travis Moen is a hard working player who never gives up. Paul Mara will stick up for his teammates no matter what. Hal Gill is... well... Hal Gill... Jaroslav Spacek will help the powerplay. Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez are incredible leaders who will make this team their own.

But Mike Cammalleri might be the best off-season acquisition the Canadiens have made in years. Small, shy, not very outspoken, he's not the player who's going to be the talk of the media or part of any fabricated scandals. But he will do all the talking he needs to do on the ice, and he's proving that with 5 goals, 6 assists and 11 points in ten games as a Montreal Canadien, and he won't do it in a way that will hurt the team (as evident by his +2 rating, his only 2 penalty minutes, his very low 3 giveaways and his 6 takeaways, good for second place on the team).

After last night's performance, and his solid play in the nine games before that, Cammy certainly deserves the spotlight. And on this Sunday afternoon, at the very least, it's all yours, Mike. Make us proud, and be the goal scorer and game breaker this team has been lacking for so long.

I'll be back tomorrow with a Habs/Isles game preview.

Prax
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