Coach not worried about Cammalleri’s current donut on the scoresheet
Bob Hartley had a front-row seat to speedy forward’s talents during Montrea’s 2010 playoff run
Short answer is no. Bob Hartley is not worried.
Michael Cammalleri, through four outings, may have no goals. He may have only three shots on net.
But the Calgary Flames coach knows that the wee winger will start scoring. Probably in bunches. Hartley had been in Montreal during the Canadiens’ playoff run in 2010, so he witnessed Cammalleri at his sharpest, burying 13 pucks in 19 games.
Meaning confidence from the coach’s bunker is unwavering.
“I’ve watched Cammy in so many games — he’s a game-breaker,” Hartley said after Monday’s practice at the Scotiabank Saddledome. “He’s one of those guys that might not get a chance for the first two periods and, suddenly in the third, the score is 2-2 . . . and you want the puck on his stick because he can make the difference.
“I sat with him on Saturday morning. I told him, ‘Just keep working hard. Don’t get frustrated. Good things happen. And you do the right things.’ I’m expecting big things out of Cammy.”
Rather than dwell on the goallessness, the bench boss makes a point of focusing on the player’s selflessness. How Cammalleri, without crabbing, played out of position — on his off-wing with Mikael Backlund and Sven Baertschi — for the opening two games to give the coach a chance to sort out his forward units.
Games 3 and 4, he returned to his traditional left side. And now, according to Hartley, Cammalleri’s game is pointed in the right direction.
Good news for the Flames, because they cannot survive without his contributions.
“Obviously, we need his goal production — everyone needs to be producing goals,” said Hartley. “But I also saw Michael Cammalleri, backchecking, take a three-on-two away from Edmonton. I also saw late in the game — Justin Schultz had a wide-open net and Michael Cammalleri dove and got his stick on the puck.
“Obviously, a goal-scorer wants to score goals and we want him to score goals . . . and the chances are not there for him right now. But you know those goal-scorers, they get one goal and they get going.”
Shooting is where it starts.
Cammalleri, in a full season, has never flung fewer than 175 pucks on target. In 2006-07, with the Los Angeles Kings, he chalked up a career-high 299 shots.
“If you do the math on that, in an 80-game season, you’re looking at over three shots a game — pretty good math for a hockey player, eh?” said Cammalleri, grinning. “But it’s getting comfortable, it’s working with different guys — depends how and who you’re being used with.
“But I’d like to get as many as I can. If I can get 10 shots in a game, I’ll take 10.”
To reach 197 career goals, the Richmond Hill, Ont., native fired on net 1,649 times.
Then came this season.
Jarome Iginla, right now, has 19 shots. So three for Cammalleri? Small sample size, sure, but it is noteworthy.
“Make of that what you want. It’s your job to make predictions and my job to keep working on it,” said Cammalleri. “I’d definitely like to get many more shots, especially five on five.”
Chuckling, he made a promise.
“You’ll see some good one-timers coming, right under the bar.”
No different than the rest of the locals, Cammalleri is showing improvement in nightly increments.
“For a lot of reasons, we’ve got gradually better over four games — if we can do that for 44 more, we’ll be all right,” said the 30-year-old. “Hockey’s a game, like most sports, where you have to play as much as you can off instinct . . . so it takes some time to ingrain the habits of our system. That’s what we’re trying to do as fast as we can. With the result of (Saturday’s 4-3 win over the Oilers), you’d like to think that it’s happening and we’re on our way.
“You’ve got to try to do all your thinking and work in practice and hope that it becomes habitual, so in a game you can take the thinking out. For a lot of us, we’ve been doing a little more thinking than we’d like to in games. It makes you somewhat hesitant out there. It’s our job to get that out of our game and trust our instinct.”
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