Lars Eller is a wonderful player who just had a miserable year.
The Washington Capitals entered the 2020-21 season with a new coach that had been there, lots of veteran leadership, and one of the most imposing rosters in the NHL. But after being blitzed by the Boston Bruins in Game Four Friday night, the Caps are one game away from having the same fate as its 2019 and 2020 teams: being first rounded.
Nicklas Backstrom and Lars Eller spoke to the press in the Zoom Room after the shocking letdown game and they wore the disappointment on their face.
The Capitals face elimination in Game Five at Capital One Arena on Sunday night.
The Washington Capitals are making a goalie change ahead of Game Three.
Ilya Samsonov, who spent nearly two weeks on the COVID-19 Unavailability List before returning to the team on Sunday, will get the start against the Boston Bruins, replacing 39-year-old Craig Anderson in net.
Anderson won Game One in relief of Vitek Vanecek who got injured in the first period. Anderson started Game Two but lost 4-3 in overtime.
Peter Laviolette announced during the Capitals’ optional skate on Tuesday that Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilya Samsonov will travel with the team to Boston for Games Three and Four.
Both players are reacclimating themselves after being suspended by the team for disciplinary reasons and nearly a two-week stay in protocol. The two Russians participated in Capitals’ practice on Sunday and Monday and sat in the press box for Game Two.
The Capitals are already without Evgeny Kuznetsov and now they have lost one of their best two-way centermen due to injury.
During the second period of Game Two, Lars Eller went down the tunnel with head athletic trainer Jason Serbus with a lower-body injury. He did not return for the third period.
In the hours leading up to Wednesday’s rematch between the Capitals and Rangers, the Rangers organization called Tom Wilson’s role in a line brawl on Monday “a horrific act of violence.” Rangers players said Wilson had no respect for the game or its players. And the team said the Department of Player Safety’s George Parros should be fired after choosing to fine, not suspend the Capitals forward. The Rangers essentially painted themselves into a corner, where there had to be retribution in Wednesday’s game.
And retribution there was.
The Rangers and Capitals opened the game with a line brawl. All six forwards on the ice fought. Before the game was five minutes old, the teams dropped the mitts six different times.
Tom Wilson, to use terminology from professional wrestling, is the biggest heel in the NHL (despite being a generally nice and cuddly person in real life). Monday, Wilson ignited controversy again after starting a line brawl with the New York Rangers. Wilson punched a defenseless Pavel Buchnevich in the side of the head and wrestled with Artemi Panarin, ending the Rangers star’s season due to injury.
The NHL fined Wilson $5,000, but did not suspend him. The Rangers called Wilson’s actions “Just horrible” and that he had no respect for the game. “I think it’s a joke to be honest with you,” Ryan Strome said. Rangers beat writer Larry Brooks tweeted a highlight of Wilson slamming Panarin to the ice (which he later deleted) and wrote “look how close the NHL was to a death on the ice.” Tuesday night, the Rangers posted a statement calling Wilson’s actions a “horrifying act of violence.”
Meanwhile, Capitals center Lars Eller doesn’t understand what the big deal is.
Brenden Dillon and Chris Wagner wasted no time taking their fists to each other’s face. Four seconds after the puck was dropped on the opening faceoff, the two players chucked their mitts onto the ice and engaged in a gentlemanly do-si-do.
Dillon won the fight, overpowering Wagner with a torrent of rights. The face-punching appeared to set the tone for the Capitals (if you ignore Evgeny Kuznetsov’s stick penalty 23 seconds after Dillon’s fight). The Capitals jumped out to a 3-0 lead after goals from TJ Oshie, Lars Eller, and Conor Sheary.
The Capitals could end up sporting a full lineup against the New York Rangers, Tuesday night.
According to Peter Laviolette, Lars Eller will be a game-time decision. The Capitals’ third-line center has missed the last seven games due to a lower-body injury he suffered against the Flyers on March 13.
Lars Eller has finally weighed on the new nickname bestowed upon him by teammate TJ Oshie, who in February referred to Eller as “a horse and a moose coming through the middle.” In a podcast interview released today, Eller called the description “one of the biggest compliments you can get.”
And yes, Eller has seen all the photoshops combining a horse and moose with his existing animal alter ego, the tiger, and it seems like he likes them.
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