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Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 12/21/2010

Statistical analysis: The emergence of Mathieu Perreault

By Neil Greenberg
Statistical analysis

Back in October, Mathieu Perreault was sent back to Hershey during training camp to make room for former first-round pick Marcus Johansson, whom the coaches said had "more defensive upside." That would all change with the trade of Tomas Fleischmann to the Colorado Avalanche, providing an opportunity once again for fan favorite Matty P to lace up his skates with the big club and prove to everyone that his fast starts could be sustained throughout the season.

Perreault did well in his first call-up in the 2009-10 season last year, blasting out of the gate with six points in his first eight NHL games, but his offense sputtered with just three points in his last 13 games, making the decision to send him back down to Hershey an easy one. This year, though, things seem different. In nine games he has had a multi-point effort three times, but it is how he is making those around him better that should cause people to take notice.

Consider that the Caps not only see more scoring chances go their way when Perreault is on the ice, but they see more goals hit the twine as well. That is no small feat, considering that goal scoring was virtually non-existent during the team's last eight games before they finally recorded a win against Ottawa.

With PerreaultWithout Perreault
Scoring chance %Convert %Scoring chance %Convert %
Scoring chance percentage is scoring chances for divided by all scoring chances. Convert percentage is goals for divided by scoring chances for.

As for the debate that Johansson has more defensive upside than Perreault, maybe that's true, but it's not evident on the ice. Looking at the linemates the young pivots have had in common, Perreault continues to come out ahead on both sides of the puck during even strength.

TOI Scoring chances for Scoring chances against Scoring chance % GF GA Convert %
Chimera - Perreault - Fehr 13.9 5 6 45.5% 1 0 20.0%
Chimera - Johansson - Fehr 50.8 7 9 43.8% 1 1 14.3%
Knuble - Perreault - Laich 11.8 6 0 100.0% 1 0 16.7%
Knuble - Johansson - Laich 14.8 6 3 66.7% 0 0 0.0%
Laich - Perreault - Semin 43.4 17 6 73.9% 5 0 29.4%
Laich - Johansson - Semin 32.7 9 7 56.3% 0 1 0.0%

The chemistry Perreault has shown with linemates Alexander Semin and Brooks Laich is particularly impressive, putting more than seven scoring chances out of every 10 in the Caps' favor when they are together on the ice -- and potting almost a third of those chances in net during even strength.

Does this mean Perreault is the answer to the Caps' need for a second-line center? Probably not, but it does show that he is more than capable of filling the third-line pivot role that was Johansson's to lose just a few short months ago. Perreault's bouts with inconsistency could be behind him if he's given the chance to rock the red just a little bit longer.

Neil Greenberg also writes for Russian Machine Never Breaks. You can follow him on Twitter here.

By Neil Greenberg  | December 21, 2010; 10:43 AM ET
Categories:  Marcus Johansson, Mathieu Perreault, Statistical analysis  
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Next: Matt Hendricks doubtful vs. Devils, Alexander Semin a 'game-time decision'


Thanks! These stats bear out what I have seen watching the games. Even when Perreault does not score a point he is pushing the puck up the ice and creating good scoring chances for his line-mates. IMO folks who say he has "dissapeared" again are watching his point totals and not the games.

I admit that I have a soft spot (in all sports) for speedy undersized players... but I really think that MP is the real deal.

Posted by: allCAPS | December 21, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Thank you for some facts to back up what I have been saying since training camp...

Matt Perreault isn't a fan favorite just because he is a likable guy, many fans recognize he belongs on the Caps roster. I think he belonged there last year. I can't help but think there has been bias on his height and size. He is definitely a #3 center at this point. Maybe he can grow into a #2 center.

Posted by: theAnswerIs42 | December 21, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Makes a strong case too for a Brooks Laich contract extension.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | December 21, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Makes a strong case too for a Brooks Laich contract extension.

Posted by: tominsocal1

He's valuable. Maybe when can trade him for a 2C? We don't want to lose him to the KHL for nothing ;-).

Posted by: ablake70 | December 21, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

what was the problem with johansson? Every game i watched he looked good, and he seemed to have good chemistry with semin.
I think he and pearreault both should be kept on the roster. They are skilled and have lots of potential... at the very least sit one of the 4th liners in favor of these guys.

Posted by: royhperkins | December 21, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Well my 8 year old summed it up this way "The caps problem is there is no HUSTLE! They are all gliding around the ice, they need to skate more like that #85 guy, he's an animal!"
There it is.

Posted by: gwells1 | December 21, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

I like Perreault, however he isn't the answer just yet (neither is Johansson). They need to go after Brad Richards for the upcoming playoff run. THAT is a true second line center.

Posted by: jmheltz | December 22, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

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