WASHINGTON — Mathieu Perreault and Jay Beagle each scored a goal Sunday night as a part of their effort to make Washington’s opening night roster during the Capitals’ 4-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks before an announced 18,405 at Verizon Center in the last preseason tilt for both squads.
The Capitals finished 3-3-1 on the pre-season, while the Blackhawks ended 2-4-1.
Perreault’s goal came at the 11:18 mark of the first period and was the first of the night for either team. Mike Green shot the puck from the point — only for the puck to trickle through the pads of Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford — and Perreault tapped it home. Perreault’s quickness was on display and he tended to help create offense throughout the night. Perreault is fighting for a spot on Saturday night’s roster against the Carolina Hurricanes, and he impressed his coach with his recent play.
“I think our best player all of camp was Perreault,” Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Played with the energy every night and I think he was very similar last year but we’ll sit down tomorrow and discuss all of this.”
Boudreau said that he wants to see more consistency out of Perreault moving forward. Perreault struggled last season with the quality of his play on a game-to-game basis, but showed flashes throughout the regular season of being a high-energy forward that can create scoring opportunities.
“He gets excited,” said Boudreau. “Tonight, he’s playing well, he gets excited and then he wants to hold onto the puck instead of at the end of a shift, dumping it in. I understand that and those are the kind of things that he has to consistently do to be a very good player – he’s a good player, but to be very good.”
Beagle scored a short-handed, empty net goal in the waning moments of the game and was also trying to stake his claim to an opening night roster spot. Boudreau was pleased with the energy that Boudreau brought to the ice as he was with Perreault.
“He’s a pretty determined young man,” Boudreau said of Beagle. “The young guys are working their rear end off to not only stay here – but to [not be] the thirteenth or the fourteenth forward to play every night. And Jay’s making it tough to say ‘you know what, either you’re going down or you’re sitting in the stands’ because he goes out there and brings energy to every shift and no matter whether he makes a mistake or not, you know he’s giving it everything he’s got every time so coaches love that in a guy.”
With defenseman John Erskine still recovering from off-season shoulder surgery, an opportunity has presented itself to 20-year-old prospect Dmitry Orlov to make the opening night roster. Orlov played 19 games with the Hershey Bears last season, recording two goals and seven assists.
Orlov has held his own during the pre-season, but has had the typical inconsistencies associated with young players. The Capitals could keep Orlov as their seventh defenseman until Erskine returns from injury, or they could send Orlov to Hershey, where he’d play a lot more than he would in Washington.
“It was just flashes – flashes of his talent that you’re willing to say, ‘OK, we gotta take another look at this guy’,” Boudreau said of Orlov’s play. “There’s also flashes of ‘hey, you know what, there’s things he needs to learn.’
“So his first game he struggled, his second game he was really good, this game he was mediocre. Every game is a game-by-game assessment, sort of – with the young guys, anyway. And again, that comes in with the consistency and at this level you have to bring your ‘A’ game every night – or at least nine out of 10 nights.”
Mike Green scored a power play goal in the third period against Chicago that made the score 3-1 at the time. Green will see a change in his usage this year, assuming most of the Capitals’ defensemen stay healthy. In years past, Green would be asked to play around 30 minutes per game on some nights.
But with the maturation of Karl Alzner and John Carlson, along with last year’s mid-season addition of Dennis Wideman and the off-season addition of Roman Hamrlik, Green figures to be relied upon a lot less to skate huge minutes.
“It’s just great,” said Green. “At times there, playing that many minutes, you can get mentally tired and make mistakes and I think that’s what happened in the past. To play 30, 35 minutes is too much in this league, especially in this league with teams – how quick they are, how quick they react. You have to be fresh. This is good for us that we can all share the minutes and be productive.”