The Little Matty That Could: The Washington Capitals' Feel-Good Story

Kaitlin SantannaContributor INovember 8, 2009

NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 04: Mathieu Perreault #85 of the Washington Capitals skates in his first NHL game against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on November 4, 2009 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

If you were to come across Washington Capitals forward Mathieu Perreault on the street, a professional hockey player is probably not the first profession that would come to mind. Standing at 5’10", and weighing 174 soaking wet, his slight frame likens him to a shortstop instead of an NHL center.

If effort could be transferred into size, however, Perreault would stand taller than Zdeno Chara when on the ice.

Perreault was chosen by the Capitals with their last pick in the 2006 draft, the same class that brought Washington stars such as Nicklas Backstrom, and Semyon Varlamov. The center made his first major imprint on the organization playing in the AHL with the Hershey Bears last season.

In 77 regular season games with Hershey, Perreault totaled 11 goals, and 39 assists. He also played in every Bears playoff game in their run to capturing a Calder Cup Championship.

Despite winning a ring with the Bears last season, Perreault attended Washington’s annual development camp in July. Mathieu showed experience, and growth from his first camp fresh after he was drafted, and he impressed coaches, and fans alike, throughout the week.

From the QMJHL to Capitals' training camps, and everywhere in between, Perreault impresses not with his size, but with his unwavering energy, and effort on the ice. The Drummondville, Quebec native made such an impact on the powers that be in Washington, that he was recalled to the NHL Wednesday.

It might seem like a stretch recalling a player to the NHL, who just months ago skated in the organization’s development camp, usually reserved for recent draftees. Anyone who has watched Perreault play nightly in Hershey, however, knows he brings his high energy game every shift. Appearing on the ice seemingly everywhere at once, Perreault often only appears as a speedy streak of maroon flying across the ice. His speed, and tenacity, combined with amazing hands, makes Mathieu a threat on the ice.

Now the Capitals have experienced the magic that is Matty. Watching Perreault play in his past three games, it is clear that the call-up was warranted.

In his NHL debut versus the New Jersey Devils last Wednesday, Perreault assisted on both of Washington’s goals, and finished a plus-two on the night.

While it was in the Devils game that Perreault produced the most points, last night’s game against Florida was his greatest performance to date. He recorded just 10:26 of ice time, his least so far, but provided a goal that changed the momentum of a close game.

Down by a goal entering the third period, Perreault scored his first NHL goal with just over two minutes into the final stanza. His tally sparked a five goal comeback that led to a Capitals 7-4 victory.

Perreault’s stay in the NHL is predicated on the health of center Boyd Gordon. Out indefinitely with what the team has deemed back spasms, Perreault’s time with the Capitals is seemingly limited.

Perreault has certainly made it difficult for the Capitals to send him back to Hershey. He brings his gritty, and energetic play every shift, and although he has yet to gain significant ice time, Mathieu takes advantage of every opportunity he can.

And for a little guy, Perreault is certainly bringing his big game to the Capitals.