Mathieu Perreault knows the deal. So does Cody Eakin.
With D.J. King sent to Hershey, the Capitals have 13 healthy forwards and 12 spots, and coach Bruce Boudreau has rotated the healthy scratch around – to both those young players and veteran Jeff Halpern.
The unfortunate seat in the press box Tuesday night against the Dallas Stars goes to Perreault, who was a minus-3 in the 5-3 loss at the New York Islanders on Saturday. But the 23-year-old said Boudreau has communicated the idea to him.
“He’s been talking to me, letting me know that even though some nights I sit out, it’s not because I’m not playing good,” Perreault said. “They like what we’ve been doing – all the guys – and if you sit out one game, you’ll be in the next game and you have to pick a line and play. It’s nothing against our game; it’s part of being a young guy.”
Eakin was a healthy scratch Saturday after a two-point game Friday, but the 20-year-old who was just recently recalled because of his strong performance with the Hershey Bears understood.
“I think it’s just part of coming up [that] you’re not going to play every game,” he said. “There’s guys that are healthy that have played here a lot longer than me.”
Of course knowing that each game is an audition can change how a young guy like Perreault or Eakin plays.
“There’s a little bit more pressure. If you play good, you’ll probably be in next game; if you don’t play as good, you’ll probably sit,” Perreault said. “So for sure it’s a little bit more pressure, but there’s always going to be pressure in this game.”
It’s also harder, Perreault admitted, to get into a rhythm without consistent ice time.
“But when you sit out,” he said, “you’ve just got to get your mind set for the next game and keep working hard.”
For Perreault, that next chance could come Friday, or Saturday or when the Caps open a three-game road trip Nov. 15 at Nashville.
All he knows is he wants to be on the ice.
“If they want me to play D, I’ll play D,” Perreault said with a laugh.