The Mathieu Perreault Effect

In the ten games he's played with the Washington Capitals, Mathieu Perreault's made quite an impression.  He notched two assists in his first NHL game, and added his first tally two games later.  His scoring pace may have dropped off but his presence is being felt on almost every shift he takes, and he creates chances and his energy forces opponents to work hard, in turn contributing even when he isn't getting on the scoresheet.

There are a lot of ways to be a productive hockey player. Naturally some are flashier than others. A goal is a heck of a lot more likely to make it on a highlight reel than the battle in the corner that allowed the goal to happen; you're more likely to see a big hit than a pokecheck, even if the latter was more effective.  Television programs, written recaps, and personal memory all tend to towards the creation of a narrative, and creation of a narrative usually means keying in of brief moments.  There's nothing wrong with that, but it does mean subtler contributions can get lost in the shuffle.

The result is the chronic underrating of what is arguably hockey's most valuable skill: the ability to make the players around you better.  A guy can get attention for a great pass, but for most players in that category the pass is just one example of the dozens of decisions they make every game, shift in and shift out.  For a player like that, the effect doesn't just show up in his numbers, it shows up in his teammates' numbers as well.  In his brief time in Washington, Mathieu Perreault has been that type of player.

With that in mind, we thought we'd take a look at how Perreault's most frequent linemates have fared since his arrival:


Chris Clark GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SOG PCT
10/1 - 11/1
14 1 2 3 -6 11 0 12 8.3
11/4 - 11/23
10 1 5 6 0 9 0 25 4.0


Eric Fehr GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SOG PCT
10/1 - 11/1
6 1 0 1 0 0 0 8 0.0
11/4 - 11/23
8 2 3 5 4 0 0 12 16.7


Tyler Sloan
GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SOG PCT
10/1 - 11/1
6
0
1
1
-2
2
0
4
0.0
11/4 - 11/23
8
2
0
2
2
4
0
8
25.0


Total
GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SOG PCT
10/1 - 11/1
26
1
3
4
-8
13
0
24
4.2
11/4 - 11/23
26
5
8
13
6
13
0
45
9.0

Of course, not all of the improved performance can be attributed to Perreault - he's assisted on two of the five goals his most frequent linemates have scored and been on the ice for four of them, so it's not as if they're wholly dependent on him to create chances for him.  Still, the fact that Chris Clark, Eric Fehr, and (the better winger version of) Tyler Sloan have looked like legitimate offensive threats to the eye - and are scoring more often, taking more shots, and increasing their collective plus-minus - make it fair to conclude that Perreault's helping the older, more experienced players contribute more to the Caps.

What does that mean long term?  Not a whole lot - yet.  Getting off to a hot start is one thing; finding a way to have consistent success in the NHL is another.  But at the very least it looks like the Capitals may have found a player with an decent amount of hockey's rarest attribute in the sixth round - and that's something no one can complain about.

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