Cammalleri joining Habs all-time greats with playoff scoring binge
Michael Cammalleri is not just scoring goals for the Montreal Canadiens, he is matching the feats of some of the 24-time Stanley Cup champions greatest stars.
MONTREAL - Michael Cammalleri is not just scoring goals for the Montreal Canadiens, he is matching the feats of some of the 24-time Stanley Cup champions greatest stars.
With seven goals in a seven-game series victory over the defending Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, Cammalleri equalled a team record for tallies in a single playoff series shared by Maurice (Rocket) Richard (1944 and 1958), Jean Beliveau (1956), Bernard (Boom Boom) Geoffrion (1957), Guy Lafleur (1975) and Marcel Bonin (1959) — all of them but Bonin long established members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
How's that for company?
And Cammalleri, who signed as a free agent from the Calgary Flames last summer, has a shot at making more history when the Canadiens move into the conference final for the first time since 1993, the year of their last Stanley Cup conquest.
When the Toronto native said after the Canadiens eliminated Pittsburgh with a 5-2 win on Wednesday night that ''there's something pretty special going on here,'' he was talking about the team. It's left to others to say the same about him.
The Canadiens had a day off from the rink and the media Thursday as they wait to see which team they will face in the NHL Eastern Conference final, which will be decided Friday night in a Game 7 showdown between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers.
Once it starts with Game 1 on Sunday (CBC, 7 p.m. ET), more team records will be in danger.
Cammalleri had two game-winning goals against Pittsburgh and one in the first round against Washington, leaving him one short of a team record shared by Richard (1958), Beliveau ( 1965) Lafleur (1975) and Claude Lemieux (1986).
The 27-year-old, whose previous playoff experience was one round with Calgary last spring, has 12 goals in 13 playoff games this season.
The official team mark for goals in one playoff year is 17 by Edouard (Newsy) Lalonde in 1919, and the modern record is 15 by Yvan Cournoyer in 1973. He is already tied for fourth place in that department. The league record is 19 shared by Philadelphia's Reggie Leach in 1976 and Edmonton's Jari Kurri in 1985.
The Montreal record for left-wingers like Cammalleri is 14 by Frank Mahovlich in 1971.
Four of his goals have been on the power play, two fewer than Jacques Lemaire's 1979 total.
Cammalleri and another off-season signing, Brian Gionta, accounted for 11 of the 19 goals Montreal scored against the Penguins. Gionta also has four power-play goals this spring.
''Those guys really came up big, and not just scoring goals, but making plays,'' said still another free agent who has excelled in the post-season, defenceman Hal Gill.
The Canadiens have already written a new page by winning consecutive seven-game series. The only time they had won two in the same year was 1971, when they topped Boston in the opening round and Chicago in the final, with a six-game win over Minnesota in between. Like this year, both those Game 7s were won on the road.
Now they are set to play one of two teams against whom they have a history of playoff confrontation.
All-time, Montreal is 24-8 in playoff series against Boston, although they were swept by the Bruins in the opening round last year. It would be a third straight year the two teams have met, with Montreal winning in seven games in the first round in 2008 before bowing out to Philadelphia in five.
The Canadiens also came back from a 3-1 deficit to knock Boston off in seven games in the 2004 playoffs.
The rivals will not have met at this stage of the playoffs since that fateful series in 1979 in what was then called the semifinals (there were only three rounds of playoffs then). Late in Game 7 in Montreal, Don Cherry's Big Bad Bruins were called for too many men on the ice, Lafleur tied the game and Yvon Lambert scored in overtime in a game that has become a legend in itself.
Montreal has a 3-2 playoff series edge on the Flyers, including a six-game loss in the 1987 conference final and a six-game win in the same round in 1989.
The big one was 1976, when the Canadiens ended the two-year reign of the Broad Street Bullies with a four-game sweep of the Stanley Cup final.