Some think Mathieu Perreault is a no-brainer to start the year at #2 center whose points-per-game (PPG) would increase in the NHL as much as it did in the AHL – despite there being significant proof to the contrary. Others think he could score 45 points, which I think is high based on what we have seen from him so far in his career.
In fact, if we look at Matty P’s AHL stats they translate to 4G/9A/13P in 21 NHL games. His actual 2009-10 stats in Washington were: 4/5/9 in 21GP. Weird, huh?
For the record: I think Mathieu Perreault’s a decent player. His campaign for the Calder Cup winning Hershey Bears at age 22 shows he has some upside – unlike top chocolate and white pivot Keith Aucoin who is a decade older than most AHL players.
On one hand, we have an AHL scorer with some upside who makes a legitimate NHL threat like Eric Fehr better when they are paired. On the other we have an undersized 6th round pick (a 2nd rounder has less than a 30% chance to develop into a player who will play at least 150 games) who’s scoring droughts will be blamed for being physically unable to compete at the NHL level.
Despite this, the “Matty P” parade lives on, so I set out in search for some hidden value that might give justification to the Perreault fans of the word. And I think I’ve found it: He could be considered clutch.
By clutch I mean he scores more 5v5 goals in “close” games (the score being within one goal in the first or second period, or a tied score in the third period or overtime) at a better rate than in non-close games. A MUCH better rate.
If we look at all the CORSI events (Goals + Shots Saved+ Missed Shots + Blocked Shots) we see Perreault was on the ice for 403 total events at even strength. As long as we have over 100 CORSI events we can get workable results but for comparison: Mike Green, “who is on the ice the whole time,” saw 2709.
Of Matty P’s 403 events, 230 came in non-close games and 173 were in close games. He scored 3 goals at even strength last year with 2 of those coming in “close” games. That gives him 1.16 Goals Scored per 100 events, just slightly behind Ovechkin and Semin (1.21). Not bad company.
Looking at it another way, if we know Goals For and Goals Against we can use the Pythagorean Theorem to figure out win percentage:
Expected W% = GF2/(GF2 + GA2)
We know Perreault was on the ice for 9 GF and 7 GA for all 5v5 action, and 7 GF with only 3 GA during close games at even strength. The Caps expected chances of winning a non-close game with Perreault on the ice is a paltry .215, BUT, in close games it balloons to .830 – an increase of 286%(!). Pretty staggering.
Stats like this show why Perry was so valuable to the Bears: He knows how to step up when the game’s on the line. What remains to be seen is if he can provide the Caps enough value during the regular season that he remains with the big club all year and can instill enough confidence in Bruce Boudreau to use him in tough situations.