Friday, November 12, 2010

The Goal

If you ever played hockey, (if you weren't a goalie) you remember The Goal you scored. You know what that means. Not the tap-in while you stood at the side of the crease, or the one that bounced off your ass. You remember The Goal. One time in your hockey career, you went end-to-end, moved on the D, went in alone on the goalie and scored. It's the reason why skaters play hockey in the first place. Some players may get tremendous satisfaction from containing the other team's top guy...Tomas Plekanec and Bob Gainey, I'm talking to you...but most of us get joy from scoring a really great goal.

I remember mine. I picked the puck out of a defensive scrum, and cut through the middle. One defenseman tried a poke check, but I heel-dragged by her. The other D tried to block the shot, but went down too early. I evaded her extended stick and faked forehand on the goalie. He stacked the pads and I went high backhand. It all happened within about ten seconds, but I'll never forget it. I never scored another goal like it and probably never would if I'd played another ten years. It's the one memory of my hockey playing life I recall when I think about that time.

Michael Cammalleri has The Goal too. Maybe it happened in college or in pee wee. Maybe it was last season. Whenever it came, there's a goal in his memory that makes him remember why he plays hockey. It's time the team and the coaches focus on him and help him bring that goal back, because something's wrong with him.

Cammy looks angry and unfocused. He's taking bad penalties, and he's misfiring on what last year would have been sure goals. He's acting from a goalscorer's frustration when the things that usually come naturally don't come at all.

His line with Plekanec and Kostitsyn offered him the best chance of scoring, but that's been broken up. Jacques Martin needs to think about letting that line get back together for the sake of his six-million-dollar sniper, because no matter how much a guy gets paid, he still needs to get inspired to produce. Martin has done a pretty good job of managing his assets so far, but Cammalleri is one of the most precious of those assets. The coach might need to move things around in his favour because the team needs him.

There's been some speculation that Cammalleri worked hard on his campaign to be named Habs captain, and now he's mad because he didn't get it. I don't believe that's true, but if it is, Cammalleri needs to put that to rest. He's not behaving in character and whatever it takes to get him going, whether coaching manouvers or self-examination, must happen soon.

The Canadiens only function well if they're working as a team, and we saw last an imporant part of that. He has to produce for the team to be successful.

Maybe the answer is to remind him of The Goal. Maybe he needs to remember why he plays the game and forget about all the adulation, photo shoots and tire-flipping commercials. The coaches can help. Linemates can help. The rest of it comes from within, and it's time for Cammaleri to look there for some answers.


Anonymous said...

He's also passing to the wrong guys, giving up pucks, in short, he's a mess.

If he's upset because he was not chosen as captain, he needs to refocus and pull up his big boy pants.

It's kinda funny to me though, because when certain players don't perform, you cut them down and when others don't perform such as Cammy or Gionta, you mention it and predict they'll do better without any cut-down. You may not see it, but you do. So pull up your big boy pants too and be fair with your comments.

Anonymous said...

I remember my "goal". I had been playing a long time before it came. The team was dispirited and frankly we were getting beaten pretty bad. We couldn't do anything right. They were quitting. I don't know where the energy came from. Maybe from rage. Rage that we were folding to these twerps, or just rage at myself for not doing enough.

At the first opportunity I looked at the player next to me and said "Do you think we can win this?" When I saw the cautious nod it was all I needed. Two of us believed! I jumped onto the ice and the puck came to me just as their meanest forward bore down. I don't know if it was leverage or luck but I shrugged him off like Butch Bouchard used to do, sending him flying and leaving me a gap with only their best D man between me and the net.

I have this memory of the head fake, of quickly cutting with one hand on the stick and using the other to hold the impotent DMan's stick out of the ref's sight. Then I was in alone. I put everything I had into that shot. I'm not big, 206, but I got good wood on it. The puck rose like a rocket and hit the goalie square on the mask and dropped there, laying in the crease as I crashed in. I tapped it through his pads before the stunned goaltender could even move. Then he crumpled to the ice and I thought I could hear him cry.

The crowd was stunned. I was stunned. Best Timbits tourney I ever played in. Even if it was only a couple minutes before the mounties dragged me out of there.

J.T. said...

@anon #1: Examples, please. It's fine to point fingers behind your "anon" handle, but back it up.

@anon #2: You got me there. :)

Number31 said...

Being a goalie, I'm the one who usually gives up The Goal lol... But I scored the shootout winner on Eklund in a tweetup floor hockey game. Goalie on goalie (ran out of shooters, tied 1-1). I glove saved his attempt. He tried to pokecheck me, was flat on his belly, and I just backhanded it around him (with my paddle).


Nah. That captain thing is bollocks. He's part of the leadership group anyway and you see him whispering in his linemates ears, setting up plans, talking on the bench. Scorers are just streaky. However, everyone in the League has pinpointed him as "The Guy" and therefore have him covered. Remember when Kovy used to cross the blueline and immediately find himself surrounded by 3 players? The one thing Cammy has demonstrated is he's just as adept as a playmaker, and two goals in the Boston game were his creation (also Markov's goal in the Canucks game began with him finding the lane to Plekanec). That saucer pass over the sprawled Bruins defender was nothing short of fantastic, and you can see when he had the puck everyone immediately turned to him as "the shooter" only to have him trick them and launch that sucker to Gio for that patented baseball bunt goal.

I know I would love to see him score 40 goals, but I'm equally satisfied in knowing that he's not just a one-dimensional scorer and that shutting him down doesn't mean shutting down the Habs offense (like what happens with some teams). Also seems to have developed a little defensive skills this year and I'm not terrified to see him out there when the Habs are closing a 2-0 game anymore.

I do agree that like Andrei the chemistry of those three was gold, but their own chemistry is growing now. And it's providing a little extra cushion on balanced offense, as it now gives defenders more options to try and cover. It'll come, but like he said he won't shoot or pass just for the heck of it because if he sees a better option on his linemates stick he'll go for that option.