Nick Wass/Associated Press
When the Capitals acquired center Lars Eller from the Montreal Canadiens at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft this past summer, it was with the hope he could become the missing piece to the bottom six forwards. So far this season, he has not delivered.
Through 10 games, the veteran center has put in the effort and work to produce, but he has not been able to convert. He has only one goal in the aforementioned 10 contests. In the Capitals’ season-opening loss (3-2 in a SO) to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Eller had several great chances to end the game in overtime. While the Caps’ offense struggled out of the gate, it has come to life in the last few games. Eller’s early struggles could easily be attributed to the team’s early struggles.
As mentioned above, Eller has had his chances. He’s averaging 14:53 minutes of ice time a night, 17 seconds higher than his career average of 14:36, and he has 26 shot attempts, 19 of which have gotten to the net; this correlates to a 5.3 shooting percentage. So why is Eller having trouble scoring?
It’s certainly not because of his possession numbers. He has a Corsi rating of 51.7 and a Feneick rating of 54.2, both solid numbers. While he’s not known as a defensive player, Eller has seen an increased defensive role playing on the Capitals’ third-line and is seeing some penalty kill time as well.
While his early struggles may be troubling to some, there are still plenty of games left to play. He’s playing on what could be the best offensive team he’s been on in his career, and with names like Ovechkin, Oshie, Backstrom, and Kuznetsov around him, there’s no reason to believe Eller won’t bounce back.
By Michael Fleetwood