Caps right wing Matt Bradley posted a career season in 2009-10. Appearing in 77 games, he established single-season career bests in goals (10), assists (14) and points (24) while posting a plus-6, his best plus/minus mark since he was a rookie with the San Jose Sharks in 2001-02.
Bradley added a goal and three points in seven postseason contests. He has three goals and nine points and is plus-5 in 21 playoff games over the past two springs. During the course of his nine-year NHL career, Bradley has compiled a .23 points-per-game rate. In the 28 Stanley Cup playoff games in which he has skated with Washington, Bradley has fashioned a .39 points-per-game rate.
The rugged winger showed a penchant for scoring some big goals during the 2009-10 regular season as well. Half of his 10 goals were game-winners; Bradley had seven career game-winners coming into the 2009-10 campaign. Two of his game-winners came in the third period, most notably his Nov. 17 goal against the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist in New York. Bradley broke in alone on Lundqvist and beat him to snap a 2-2 tie with less than five minutes remaining in regulation. Bradley picked up three of his 10 goals and seven of his 24 points in the final five minutes of regulation this season.
Bradley also scored against both of his former employers, the San Jose Sharks and the Pittsburgh Penguins. His April 6 goal against the Pens was one of his five game-winners, and it enabled him to set a single-season career high in goals.
All of Bradley’s good work with his hands did not involve scoring goals. In a Jan. 12 game against the Lightning in Tampa, Bradley stepped in to take on the Bolts’ Steve Downie, an experienced fighter who had dropped his mitts and was preparing to fight Caps’ superstar Alex Ovechkin
“We got a guy like that [Downie] going after our best player,” declared Bradley after the game, “and obviously we can’t let that happen. I bet they would do the exact same thing if someone was squaring off with [Stephen] Stamkos. You don’t let guys like that [Downie] go after your best player.”
That episode helps illustrate Bradley’s ongoing value to the Capitals. A veteran of five seasons with Washington, he shares his teammates’ disappointment at the way the 2009-10 season ended.
“I’m still in a little bit of disbelief,” he said after the Game 7 loss to Montreal. “We didn’t get the job done. No matter what the reason, we’re all disappointed. We expected a lot more out of ourselves.
“It’s surprising and it’s frustrating because everyone knows we had aspirations to do a lot more this season and we didn’t. At this point now, we have to think about the future and what we can do next year to be better and be more ready for the playoffs.”
Bradley is under contract to the Caps in 2010-11. He will be heading into the final season of a three-year deal he inked with Washington in the summer of 2008.