There’s plenty of blame to go around for New Jersey’s lackluster offense this season. Having said that, one of the most undeniable contributing factors to this team’s lackluster scoring is the inconsistency of their top forwards. In terms of player accountability, left wing Mike Cammalleri has his fair share. Currently in the third season of a five-year $25 million contract he signed with New Jersey in 2014, the 35-year old forward has ten goals and 30 points in 50 games. After a staggeringly slow start to the season, in which he needed 11 games to score his first goal, Cammalleri went on a tear throughout November and early December. He tallied nine goals and 14 points in eight games between November 6th and December 3rd (missing six games over that span), during which the Devils went 7-4-3.
In the 32 games since Cammalleri’s point surge, he’s scored just once, while the Devils have gone 13-15-4 over that stretch. We all know that the Devils will take goals anywhere they can, and definitely value them more than most teams in the NHL, due to their well-documented struggles to maintain offensive consistency. In their last 32 games, the Devils lost four of those games by one goal, and four more by two.
To give an idea of how Cammalleri’s 32-game goal drought has affected the team; if he scored just five more goals over that stretch (half of his current season totals), the Devils could have found points, or put in more winnable scenarios in some of those winless contests.
While these numbers might seem discouraging, the wheels aren’t necessarily falling off the wagon on Cammalleri’s season just yet. With 113 shots in 50 games, he has the third-most on the team, and is averaging the second-most shots per game (2.26). So you can’t condemn Cammalleri for lacking effort, an issue that factored into the sluggish starts that other core Devils forwards had this season; an issue that was resolved when they started shooting more. If Cammalleri continues patrolling the net and getting shots on goal any way he can, it’s only a matter of time before the pucks start going in again.
If Cammalleri does have a second wind left in him, it couldn’t come at a better time for the New Jersey Devils. Cammalleri has historically been a very streaky player, especially during his two and a half seasons with the Devils. It might not be entirely out of the question to see another burst of 8-10 goals come from him over another stretch of 6-10 games. Once he finds the back of the net, the goals will start to come for him.
Considering how the Devils are five points out of the playoffs and need to string together a streak of six-plus wins within the next few weeks, a resurgence from someone like Cammalleri could be yet another difference-maker in determining whether the Devils wind up playing beyond April.
Similar articles like this have assessed the impacts of goal droughts from other Devils players, while comparing them to the number of one-goal games the Devils lost. Like I mentioned earlier, goals mean a lot more to the Devils than most teams in the NHL, and Cammalleri’s impacts on the team make it more evident of how much difference it would make if this team put an extra 10-15 pucks in the net this season.