This article will eventually delve into how well Mathieu Perreault did as the Montreal Canadiens’ third-line centre alongside Tyler Toffoli and Cole Caufield. However, first I must admit that I am in fact wrong quite a lot, and last night was one of those circumstances.
I didn’t like the idea of shifting Perreault from the wing to centre. After all, he’d been used almost exclusively as a winger during his time with the Winnipeg Jets. Personally, I thought Adam Brooks should probably have gotten another crack, but by the end of the game Perreault tallied his third career hat trick, and absolutely dominated the Detroit Red Wings in terms of possession.
With an expected-goals-for percentage (xGF%) of 85.7% on the night, Perreault was a machine with the puck on his stick. On his own, Perreault was able to generate six scoring chances, all of which were the high-danger variety. He was everything the Canadiens needed him to be in a game they desperately needed to win.
It wasn’t just Perreault carrying the weight. Both Toffoli and Caufield played arguably their best games of the season as well. Both collected assists on Perreault’s second goal, which was started by Caufield confidently striding into the slot to fire a shot on net.
The Canadiens needed someone to step up, and on Saturday night that person was Perreault. You could see how much the moment meant to him as the ice crew cleaned the hats off the ice in the third period.
This is the sort of thing that a team should be able to build on going forward. It’s unreasonable to expect Perreault to score a hat trick every game, but it’s clear he has plenty to offer Montreal as the season continues. If Perreault can help get both Caufield and Toffoli scoring as well, the early-season slide might soon be a thing of the past for the Habs.