This past Saturday, the Washington Capitals held their annual Red Rocker tryouts....
On Perreault Patrol
On Mathieu Perreault:
I think our best player of all of camp was Perreault. He played with energy every night and I think he was very similar last year, but we’ll sit down tomorrow and discuss that.
On moving Perreault up to the first line in Sunday’s game:
He was creating things and Marcus [Johansson] hadn’t up to that point, so I wanted to see if Matty could handle playing with those guys. Sometimes it’s intimidating.
On what Perreault needs to do:
I think consistency. Doing the right things, playing the right way. He gets excited. He’s playing well, he gets excited and then he wants to hold onto the puck instead at the end of a shift dumping it in, and I understand that. Those are the kinds of things that he has to consistently do to be a very good player. He’s a good player but he can be very good.
These quotes came from Bruce Boudreau after Sunday’s game. The same night Perreault scored his third goal in his fourth preseason game. The same night he started on a line with Jay Beagle and DJ King and ended up with Alex Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer.
But like Boudreau said, we’ve seen it before.
When the Caps were on their losing streak last season, it was Perreault who scored the game-winning goal against Ottawa and reignited the season. His next goal came three days later against Carolina, and then…he disappeared.
In the next eleven games, he had no points and was largely a minus player.
February saw the return of Mathieu the Magnificent with four points coming in the first three games that month, and nothing again until the 20th. Then he was sent down.
Of the 21 games he played with the Caps in the 2009-2010 season, most of Perreault’s nine points came at the beginning and end of his time, with eight games in between where there was nothing.
To be fair, Perreault may have been dealing with a serious injury last year. He has said that he thinks he suffered a concussion after he was hit by Tim Gleason in the Carolina game.
But he felt the pressure to continue playing.
Perreault is competing for a permanent spot on a stacked team. Most, including Boudreau, recognize that he has the talent to get clinch the position. Which is why spotty scoring that may be allowed elsewhere will not be tolerated in Washington.
That is exactly why it made sense for George McPhee to let go of seven offensive players and acquire only three (including veteran center Jeff Halpern).
Perreault is going into his third year in the NHL (though he just technically completed his rookie year). With Boudreau going a bit more creative with the center position, with Nicklas Backstrom on the second line, he has the chance to make a huge impact.
At 23, he should have the maturity to calm himself when he feels the energy coming on and spread his talent out across more than a couple games. This year, we’ll see if he actually has the mindset to do it.
I’ve assigned myself to the Perreault Patrol, and will have some choice words should he disappoint. I am a French minor after all.