Mike Cammalleri (Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Mike Cammalleri will be out until at least Saturday after his right hand injury “started acting up,” according to Devils coach John Hynes. Cammalleri, 33, is the Devils leading scorer with 14 goals and 38 points in 42 games.
The Devils enter Tuesday’s tilt against the Rangers just one point out of a playoff spot, but if New Jersey is going to make a push towards the post-season coming out of the all-star break, it will have to be without the services of Mike Cammalleri.
New Jersey placed Cammalleri on injured reserve Monday retroactive to Jan. 26, and he’s already been ruled out of Tuesday’s game. Following practice Tuesday, tough, Devils coach John Hynes told NorthJersey.com’s Tom Gulitti the earliest Cammalleri will be back in the lineup is Saturday against the Washington Capitals.
“It started acting up on him again, so we've got to shut him down here for a little bit and give him a little bit of time and see how quickly he can get back,” Hynes told Gulitti Monday following the Devils’ first practice back following the break.
Cammalleri’s injury couldn’t come at a worse time for the Devils. February is going to be a busy month for New Jersey as they play 13 games between Feb. 2 and Feb. 26. With Cammalleri out for at least the first two games and questionable for the third, the outing against Washington, the rest of the Devils offense will need to pick up the slack with their leading scorer out of the lineup. In 42 games, Cammalleri, 33, has 14 goals and 38 points.
“I wouldn't say you're really ever equipped to lose your leading scorer or a guy like Michael where he's just such an intelligent player and you see the impact he has on your team,” Hynes told Gulitti. “But, I think the experience of playing without guys in our lineup as a group, that's a learned thing. Every team is different and every culture is different, but we've had a culture here where we've been able to get through situations where we haven't had key players in our lineup and to me it's more the mindset, the understanding how we need to play.”
Hynes added that he believes the Devils are “mentally prepared” to be without Cammalleri.
Cammalleri had previously missed eight games with a similar injury, and that the ailment has returned has put a damper on what has been an outstanding year for him. For the first time since 2008-09, it appears Cammalleri could be on his way to scoring 60-plus points. Even with two games out of the lineup, Cammalleri is on pace for 64 points this season.
The Devils will have to hope Cammalleri can return sooner than later, because they can ill-afford to drop any games down the home stretch. Heading into action Tuesday, each team the Devils are chasing for a post-season position has at least one game in hand. The two divisional teams in New Jersey’s sights — the Islanders and Penguins — have three games and two games in hand, respectively.