By Ian Oland
The Washington Capitals had an important player return during Thursday’s practice.
Third-line center Lars Eller re-joined the team after suffering a lower-body injury during the first period of Saturday’s Capitals-Flyers game. Eller missed Monday and Tuesday’s matchups against the Sabres and Islanders where the Capitals’ won both games by a combined score of 9-1.
Lars Eller (lower body) is on the ice ahead of practice. He’s been talking to trainers and flexing his right knee. #Caps pic.twitter.com/uumAKraNhd
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) March 18, 2021
Eller centered Conor Sheary and Richard Panik during rushes. The team is still without Tom Wilson who is serving a seven-game suspension for
THE TOTALITY OF CIRCUMSTANCES boarding.
Capitals at practice today:
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) March 18, 2021
According to The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir, Eller talked “to trainers” throughout practice and “clearly has some lingering discomfort.”
“I wouldn’t say I’m ready to commit to saying that I’m good to go yet,” Eller admitted after practice. “Today was a step in the right direction. First time I skated in a while, like a week or something. It’s been a little bit. We’ll see how tomorrow morning goes and we’ll go from there. I’m feeling very close.”
"It's a step in the right direction. We'll see how tomorrow morning goes and we'll go from there. But I feel I'm very close."
Lars Eller talks with the media after returning to practice today.#ALLCAPS | @MedStarHealth pic.twitter.com/Fo2xAOr8M8
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) March 18, 2021
The Capitals play the New York Rangers on Friday. The Rags destroyed the Flyers 9-0 on Wednesday night.
Eller said that he got hurt during “the second shift (against the Flyers)… I just felt it right away. I just couldn’t push through it. It wasn’t close to 100 percent so better to get off. I felt fine when the game started.” During Eller’s third shift on the ice, he came up lame while skating for a loose puck and immediately left the ice.
It appears this is where Lars Eller got injured. He was racing back for a loose puck and then kinda pulled up lame, lifting his right leg. pic.twitter.com/8NJzb76sy4
— Ian Oland (@ianoland) March 14, 2021
Eller returned to the team that night for warmups after leaving Philadelphia two days prior to attend to a “family matter” in DC. Eller did not share any additional insight into what happened.
“I had a family emergency where I had to go back to Washington,” Eller said. “We’re in a good place right now to return to be with my team. Thankful for that.”
Eller’s missed time on several different occasions this season. He also missed time after being boarded by Leo Komarov. Eller revealed that the dirty play injured his shoulder and he played through lingering pain and discomfort through last week.
“It feels odd [to miss games],” Eller said. “Really unusual for me. Historically I’ve been able to be pretty healthy overall so I’d like to think that’s the case. My body’s been feeling good all year. I’d say almost better than the last couple years because I’ve had more of a rest in the offseason. So I wouldn’t reach too much into the injuries I’ve had this year.”
As for watching from the sidelines, Eller was impressed by what he’s seen lately out of the Capitals.
“I think they’ve just been playing so well,” Eller said. “We really raised our bottom level – even when we’re not playing our best – we’re still playing really good hockey. We don’t have those dips that we had a little bit early on in the season. We haven’t seen that a lot lately. We just have a good consistent game. We have good faith in your lineys and the guys next to you. Everybody knows what each other’s doing. We’re playing for each other. We’re playing really good consistent hockey. I’d rather be on the ice but it’s been fun to watch too.”
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