SUNRISE, Fla. | After five straight games as a healthy scratch, Mathieu Perreault was happy just to get on the ice. Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates could have put him with anyone.
That Perreault skated on a line with Eric Fehr and Joel Ward worked out even better, as he picked up a goal and an assist Saturday night. It was a bit of a rarity that Perreault centered a line with two right-handed shots but not one that he feels hampers his game.
“I actually like that,” Perreault said. “I feel like they’re always on their one-time side and I feel like I can find a right-handed shot better than left-handed for some reason. Even last year I played with [Alexander] Semin and I felt like it was better. So I don’t know. It’s kind of weird, something you can’t really explain. But I feel like I click more with righties.”
Perreault has experience centering a line with two righties from his time with Acadie-Bathurst Titan in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League when he skated with Tomas Beauregard and Tomas Svoboda. He’ll likely be back with Fehr and Ward for Tuesday night’s game at the Panthers.
And while Oates would welcome continued production from that line, what he wants from the 25-year-old Perreault is hard work.
“What I talked to them about was, you know, when you first look at him people said to me ‘He’s a fancy player,’ ” Oates said. “And while he does have good skill the two goals they got came off cycles, from work. Their line looked like every shift that’s what they’re doing. The pretty plays in the game of hockey are so rare now, you’ve got to be willing to work and play 200 feet. That’s what he did and that’s what their line did and that’s what I liked.”
Centering two righties, Oates said “it matters,” but not to the point where it’s detrimental to the line’s success. It’s much more of a factor in the defensive zone.
“I think our goal is stay out of our own zone,” Ward said. “And if we can do that playing the offensive side, then who cares about position and who’s got what stick? As long as you’re inside their blue line and trapped ‘em in, you’re moving around so much that if you’re not playing defense in your own zone, we’ll be fine.”
The biggest adjustment was Fehr, a career right wing, playing the left side.
“It wasn’t as bad as I expected,” the 27-year-old said. “It’s tougher in the D-zone definitely with pucks and it’s tougher to see guys coming at you but once you get in the offensive end and in the neutral zone, it’s pretty much the same game.”
If Oates gets the same game from Perreault, Fehr and Ward on Tuesday night, things could work out all right for the Caps.
“They cycled and they were relentless and they bumped guys off the puck,” Oates said. “Because we were in the zone our defensemen got in the zone, they got to shoot it and he picks up a rebound and that’s all the little things we talk about all the time.”