-- As if this historic run by the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens
isn't amazing enough, do you realize forward Michael Cammalleri
is now being mentioned in the same breath as Guy Lafleur
This is serious stuff hockey fans.
After producing 7 goals in his team's remarkable seven-game triumph over the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins
in the second round, Cammalleri increased his League-leading total to 12 through 14 postseason games. That's the most by a Canadiens player in one playoff year since "The Flower" fired home 12 in 1975 -- when "Les Habitants" dropped a six-game series to the Buffalo Sabres
in the League's semifinal round.
Cammalleri's also is tied for the third-highest total by a Canadien in the modern era -- only Yvan Cournoyer
(15 goals) in 1973 and Frank Mahovlich (14) in '71 have more.
Cammalleri will look to continue his hot hand in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Philadelphia Flyers
at Wachovia Center Sunday (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS).
When asked his feelings on being mentioned in the same sentence with Lafleur, Cammalleri quickly blunted the argument.
"I don't really know what to even say about that," Cammalleri said. "It's those guys, the excellence that they had, the winning, and the tradition, and everything they've done -- not only Montreal, but hockey. I don't think you should mention it in the same breath. It's just one of those things."
There's no question, however, that Cammalleri has found some chemistry alongside center Tomas Plekanec
(7 assists, 11 points).
"He's a great player, so I try to find him," Plekanec said. "He's a great asset for us, he's open for shots."
Cammalleri, who logs 19:50 of ice time per game and has notched 3 game-winning goals in the playoffs, knows centers Plekanec and Scott Gomez
(10 assists, 11 points) have played a major part in his postseason success.
"It's always about team play," Cammalleri said. "The guys making good plays and making plays where I end up putting the puck in. It's them making the plays. I feel good, I feel healthy. I like the way we're playing as a group and I think we're improving."
Improving? Hard to imagine it could get any better.
Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger
is no stranger to Cammalleri's skill set. He played against him for six seasons in the Western Conference as a member of the St. Louis Blues
, Edmonton Oilers
and Anaheim Ducks
. Cammalleri began his career in Los Angeles and played in Calgary in 2008-09.
"His game's evolved a little bit," Pronger said. "But he still plays very similar to how he did in L.A. He's a guy that's got an unbelievable shot, very quick release. He can get it off from anywhere, and he's very accurate. Guys like that, you've got to take away their time and space, and get in shooting lanes because he just needs a split second to get that shot off.
"He's obviously a great skater, too. He can create a lot of things off the rush in the offensive zone with his speed and his hands. He's a guy that's been a big goal scorer for them in the playoffs and somebody we've got to key in on."
Flyers forward Danny Briere
had a similar run for the Flyers in their dramatic seven-game, second-round triumph over the Boston Bruins
, notching a team-leading 5 goals and 10 points to complement a plus-4 rating.
"I don't think people gave them enough credit in the first two rounds," Briere said of the Canadiens. "(Teams) might have taken (the Canadiens) for granted a little too much and it can't happen with us. There is Cammalleri, but there are other guys too that are very dangerous. Cammalleri's on a hot run right now and he's going to be tough to stop, but it's just not about one guy. (Brian) Gionta has been having a good playoff and Gomez has been playing very well from the games that I've seen.
"They've had some key goals from (Maxim) Lapierre as well, so it's not just about one guy. They have a lot of guys that can hurt you and we can't afford to take anything for granted."
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette
said the Canadiens offer a pretty formidable offensive attack -- an area that needs his team's undivided attention.
"Montreal has done an excellent job defending their end," Laviolette said. "But they're a very good offensive team and I think that flies under the radar sometimes, especially when you're playing the Pittsburghs and the Washingtons of the world when they had to be good defensively. But they're very good offensively -- they have some skill players and we're going to have to be tight."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale