Is Mathieu Perreault A Clutch Player?


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 AHLdespite 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.

To make sure I don’t get disappointed I try and keep my expectations low:

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.

Pythagoras - Perreault fan?

Pythagoras - Perreault fan?

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.

  • Tim

    MP might not be the ideal 2C, but I think he deserves a shot. He has the talent to make it there, and I believe he would be a better fit than Flash. Last season, he mainly played on the 3rd line, and he could likely be more productive on a higher line.

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  • cajuncook

    Uh… small sample size much?

  • Pat

    I think i’d rather see Brooksie play 2nd line center, perry can play 3rd!

  • @cajuncook It’s a smallER sample size than I would like, sure, but if we have over 100 CORSI events it’s not disastrous.

    The main problem to me is not so much sample size but repeatability. That’s the only way to see if “ability to perform under pressure” exists and not attribute it to just random luck like shooting %.

    I am in no way a Matty P apologist, but I think his performance for a back-to-back Calder Cup champ gives him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to playing in “clutch” (or pressure) situations.


  • B8ovin

    As a LONG time hockey fan I have seen a huge influx of stat crunching in the last five years. I suppose some of it is the result of the internet allowing the discussion of more information, and some is the result of the growth in “fantasy” sports. It has always baffled me, however as one of the reasons I watch sports in the first place is for the drama of the unexpected. I keep seeing these numbers and equations and, particularly as a Caps fan, I keep seeing things like the first round loss to the Habs last year, or the game 7 the year before, when stats would have suggested a much closer game.

    I have a theory about Perreault of my own. We Caps fans like the underdog, particularly when they live up to the “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, etc.” adage. Perreault has the counter-intelligent intangibles that endear him. He’s undersized, quick and, I’m told by my daughter, cute. Forgetting the cute part, I used to feel the same way about Metropolit, particularly given his background. Sometimes it’s not about whether a player is expected to succeed, and more about wanting success for that player.

    (Please don’t interpret this as an indictment on the New Stats movement. I think it’s great, for those who enjoy it. I’m not a numbers guy, but I appreciate the time people put into it.)