He’s the story of Training Camp 2010 thus far, Mathieu Perreault, who’s in a highly competitive battle for an open center spot on this year’s Capitals’ roster. He’s auditioning against first-round draft picks, veteran free agents, and even a host of hockey observers in the media who to this day refuse to believe what Capitals’ General Manager George McPhee does — namely, that if you’re good enough, you’re big enough for the NHL.
The Washington Post’s Katie Carrera this morning has a terrific profile of the small-in-stature, oh-so-big-of-hockey-heart hopeful:
“At first glance, Mathieu Perreault shouldn’t have been able to gain control of the puck from his spot in the slot during the first scrimmage of Washington Capitals training camp. But there the undersized forward was, managing to create space for himself while giving up three inches and 15 pounds to Tomas Fleischmann, who was nearly draped on top of him.
“Perreault took two shots off of rebounds as he outmuscled his opponent and was rewarded with a goal to put his group up 5-0 in the contest and reminded everyone watching he’s eager to earn a spot on the Capitals’ opening-night roster.”
And Carrera well captures the dynamic quality of Matty’s game with this description: “What Perreault lacks in size advantage he makes up for with his quickness and elusive nature as a puck carrier. In an almost-constant state of motion, he avoids hits while simultaneously creating offensive opportunities.”
Perreault has centered what’s been one of the most productive and impressive lines of training camp’s first week: with wingers Jason Chimera and Eric Fehr. The line is an intriguing combination of speed, strength on the puck, and most especially grit and guile along the boards.
We’ve been writing about Matty here for four years, delighted all that while by his drive, perseverance, playmaking flair, and most especially his boyish, unbridled passion for the game. This “under-sized” sixth-rounder is going to play in the NHL all right, and maybe, just maybe, for one of the best teams in the league beginning this season. More than a few fans in Verizon Center would like nothing better.