The Capital who torched the Boston Bruins most this year offensively was … Mathieu Perreault?
Be honest. If you had to guess the team you thought an undersized NHLer not named Martin St. Louis would get a hat trick against, would the Boston Bruins have cracked your top 29?
Probably not. But, for the Capitals, this description has turned in the most points against the Bruins this year: Mathieu Perreault and Marcus Johansson tied for 4 points apiece to lead the Capitals in scoring against Boston in the regular season (yes, we’re considering Johansson undersized despite him magically being listed at the same height as Nicklas Backstrom). Granted, Perreault’s scoring only came in the first two of the series’ four games. But he’s been on the ice for only one Bruins’ goal against in the entire series. And he has that hat trick. Of course, he’s also sat in the penalty box several times, too–twice, in fact, during that game when he scored the hat trick, so it clearly didn’t cramp his offensive style.
It all suggests an underlying narrative: the key to Perreault’s success against a physical team like Boston perhaps lies in his attitude.
“I’m not scared of going through the traffic,” Perreault told OFB.
It’s an odd matchup, but an intriguing dynamic: instead of being intimidated by the Bruins, one of the smallest guys on the team is ignited by them.
“It’s a team that plays hard,” Perreault said, and went on to insinuate the challenge presented by the Bruins’ physical play makes it easier to find his game. “I get maybe roughed a little bit more, get hit, and just get me into the game a little bit more.”
That’s not to say Perreault alters his style when playing the Bruins–“Just do my thing. I’ve worked hard every game. … No matter who we play, I always play the same way,” he explains of his overall approach–but that it has more of a heightened effect.
When it comes to the hat trick, though, Perreault didn’t seem to think the tallies had as much to do with the identity of the opposing team.
“It’s nothing more special than other teams,” he said. “It was just one of those games–everything I touched went in.”
That may be true, but how many other NHL forwards get to boast they scored, as part of that hat trick, an unassisted goal with Zdeno Chara on the ice?
It’s an environment that for Perreault clearly makes up for the demanding price one must be prepared to pay in a game against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
“I like playing them,” he said decidedly.
Ilya Bryzgalov may be afraid of bears, but it certainly looks like Perreault is not.