The Capitals wrapped up their preseason with a 4-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday at Verizon Center and now can officially turn their focus to the start of the 2011-12 regular season. But first the team must make a few more cuts, which could come as early as Monday.
Following the final exhibition contest, Coach Bruce Boudreau was asked if any players showed him something new over the course of the preseason and he singled out one individual: Mathieu Perreault.
“Well, we have an idea. We know what we’re going to do. I think our best player all of camp was Perreault,” Boudreau said. “Played with energy every night and I think he was very similar last year but we’ll sit down tomorrow and discuss all of this.”
Perreault, who scored the first goal against the Blackhawks and earned playing time with Alex Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer on Sunday, finished as the Capitals’ leading scorer in the postseason with five points (three goals, two assists), is obviously a familiar face to the organization. He played 35 games in Washington last season, recording seven goals and 14 points, but consistency has often been a struggle for the 23-year-old center.
He’s stood out during training camp, but the next step for Perreault is to extend that energetic play into the regular season and provide it on a nightly basis.
“Consistency, doing the right things, playing the right way,” Boudreau said when asked what he wants to see from Perreault moving forward. “He gets excited. Tonight, he’s playing well he gets excited and he wants to hold on to the puck instead of, at the end of the shift, dumping it in. I understand that. Those are the kind of things he has to consistently do to be a very good player. He’s a good player, but to be very good.”
If Perreault is part of the 23-man active roster for opening night next Saturday, and at the moment that seems likely, where he will fit remains unclear.
Perreault has traditionally served as a center for Boudreau, who doesn’t hesitate to try players at other positions. But if the Capitals elect to go with a lineup of Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, Brooks Laich and Jeff Halpern down the middle that leaves little space. It’s also possible Perreault could be one of the extra forwards on the roster, in and out of the lineup and fighting for minutes with a more permanent role possibly the incentive for his consistency.