- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mathieu Perreault is not happy about his ice time, but the forward said Thursday he’s not asking for a trade from the Washington Capitals.

Perreault, 25, told Le Journal de Montreal and La Presse, two French-language newspapers in his native province of Quebec, that he could not be patient for the remainder of his two-year contract with the Caps and that if he wasn’t in the team’s plans, it should trade him.

He attempted to clarify what he meant in English after Thursday’s morning skate.

“I didn’t ask for a trade,” Perrault said. “Obviously I like it here, been around for four years, all my chums are [here]. I don’t want to go anywhere. All I want is a little bit more ice time and I talked to Adam Oates and George [McPhee] today about it.

“All I want is to play. I want to be here. I don’t want to go anywhere. If you guys read the article in French it doesn’t say that I asked for a trade. Never.”

There is a difference between desiring a bigger role and formally asking to be traded.

Perreault did express dissatisfaction with his ice time through two games under Oates, his third coach in Washington. He played 4:58 in Tuesday’s loss to the Winnipeg Jets and 3:52 in Saturday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Oates said he apologized to Perreault after a shift in the Tampa Bay game because he didn’t have a chance to play him more.

“I’m still learning my players they’re still learning me,” Oates said. “I obviously want to get that guy more ice time and the other night was kind of no different. We were behind so I wanted to get the other guys to produce before him. But he’s going to get his chance and basically the point is, if you’ve got a beef no problem. Let’s just talk about it.”

Listed at 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, Perreault isn’t a checking-line center and is better in the middle than on one of the wings. Perreault said he was told when signing a two-year, $2.1 million contract as a restricted free agent in July that he would be a top-six forward.

“You also got to look at the guys in front of him. I can’t put him in front of Mike Ribeiro or Nick Backstrom,” Oates said Wednesday. “So he’s going to have to wait his turn and do the little things and keep improving his game.”

Perreault had 16 goals and 14 assists last season, easily career highs in both categories. To be able to produce with that kind of efficiency again, he just wants a chance.

“I work hard every day in practice, in games. When I go out there I go a hundred percent,” Perreault said. “Just waiting for a little bit more time and see what I can do with it.”

Johansson down to 4th line

Marcus Johansson was given the first chance to play alongside Alex Ovechkin and Backstrom, but after being benched for all but 50 seconds Tuesday for not skating he was demoted to the fourth line to start the Caps’ game against the Montreal Canadiens.

“He’s a young kid he’s still learning the game, there’s little things,” Oates said. “He’s a natural center we’ve got him on wing so I’m sure some of his reads and decisions are based on that. We showed him a lot of video [Wednesday] and just moved him today with [Perreault] to see if they can get a little spark and help him out.”

Oates said Johansson wasn’t using his strength, skating, well enough against the Jets. That’s what earned him a seat for the game’s final 50 minutes.

Johansson, to his credit, was self-critical.

“I need to get better,” he said. “That’s the main thing: I didn’t play good enough.”

Ice chips

• Michal Neuvirth started in net against Montreal, his first game in a Caps uniform since April 5, when he injured his hip.

• Brooks Laich (groin) did not skate with his teammates Wednesday. The team has not revealed any time frame for the forward to return to game action.

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