Mike Cammalleri has been one of the “disappointments” so far this season for the Montreal Canadiens. It isn’t so much that he has been bad, it’s that he hasn’t been great. I even labelled him as such in my month in review. There are reasons for that. His injury surely didn’t help, and he has bounced around lines before finding a home with David Desharnais and Erik Cole who, while good, aren’t Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn.
But, looking deeper into the numbers, it isn’t necessarily that he’s playing badly. In fact, he seems to have been hit by some really bad luck.
Cammalleri is currently last on the team in a statistic called PDO. What is PDO, you may be asking. Well, it is pretty basic. It is the team’s attacking shooting percentage plus the team’s save percentage while the player is on the ice, multiplied by 1000. The average is 1000. Anything below is bound to come up, anything above is bound to come down. Currently, Cammalleri is at 924 during even strength which means that when he’s on the ice, the team is unlucky. (Shooting percentage and save percentage are found to be mostly luck-based.)
What this means, is that you can expect Cammalleri’s numbers to pick up, kinda. You see, while PDO is found to be predictive (inversly) from one season to the next, it doesn’t mean a player will necessarily turn things around in the same season. Some players luck can sour the entire year. However, no full-time player ever ends up with something as low as 924. Even last year, Scott Gomez was at 972. The lowest PDO in the league last year for someone with at least 60 games was Adam Mair at 934 who played for the New Jersey Devils. His teammates and he had a dismal 2.67 shot percentage and goalies had a .908 save percentage while he was on the ice leading to that total. For Cammalleri a lot of the poor PDO is the .861 save percentage coupled with a relatively low - for an offensive player - 6.25 shot percentage (those things tend to be around 8-10%.)
So, there is room for Cammalleri to turn it around, especially when it comes to goals against while he’s on the ice. Of course, that may change now that he no longer plays on the penalty kill and his ice time will be in more offensive-leveraged situations.
Cammalleri is in pretty good company in the group under 1000. Gomez, P.K. Subban and Alexei Emelin round out the bottom four with Cammalleri, and shows that all four haven’t been as hopeless as their other stats may show them to be.
Gomez is a possession machine, which means that the advanced statistics – that are mostly possession based – like him. The people who think that the turn around is because Gomez is not in the lineup should have their heads examined. The entire team is playing better and it is not just because Gomez is out of the lineup.
Give Gomez a few games with the improved, confident group before calling for his head in a buy out or banishing him to spending time in Hamilton. Those options aren’t exactly win-win situations as it is. You may be surprised by the results.