Lars Eller Could Be An X-Factor for the Capitals Down the Stretch

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As it stands, the Capitals are in a position in which they will most likely qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, barring a late season setback. Given their results the last two springs, the Capitals will need production from all corners of their lineup, from star players to depth ones. One player who will be a key component of the team down the stretch will be recently-extended center Lars Eller.

The 28-year old Dane has been a productive player for the Caps all season and his performance down the stretch and into the playoffs will be crucial to the Capitals’ success. in 60 games played this season, Eller has scored 13 goals and added 18 assists for 31 points, putting him on pace for a career-high 18 goals, 25 assists, and 43 points. Acquired by the Capitals at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft to bolster the Capitals’ third-line and provide some stability to a revolving door of centers, Eller has come into his own in what was a contract year for him.

Eller has seen consistent time on the power play this season with the departures of multiple power play weapons last summer, and of his 13 goals, three have come on the man-advantage. As mentioned above, Eller has been among the most productive players for the Capitals this season, averaging 2.0 points per 60 minutes this season, and an impressive 7.6 shots per 60 minutes this season. He is one of the Caps’ most defensively-sound forwards and is a key contributor on the penalty kill, as evidenced by his 12 blocked shots and six takeaways to just three giveaways.

In both of the Capitals’ playoff runs the last two springs, one of the biggest problems the team has faced is a lack of production from their entire lineup. Eller himself recorded five assists in 13 playoff games for the Capitals last season. With his strong regular season showing this year, it will be essential for Eller to have just as impressive a playoff performance. For that to happen, Eller must finish the remaining 22 games of the regular season strong in order not to lose the confidence that has helped him maintain his performance this season. If that happens, Eller could have the chance to make an impact for the Capitals come playoff time.

By Michael Fleetwood

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. His favorite player became former Capital Nate Schmidt after he met Schmidt in a Hershey hotel while in Hershey PA to see the Bears play, shortly after Schmidt was injured during a conditioning stint. Michael is also a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Orioles, and enjoys photography, watching WildEarth TV's SafariLive live safaris, and watching animals in his spare time. (Photo by Adam Vingan in 2014 at the Capitals Development Camp).
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14 Responses to Lars Eller Could Be An X-Factor for the Capitals Down the Stretch

  1. Anonymous says:

    Everyone likes to blame OV for the game 7 losses in the playoffs… for me, Conno and Eller disappeared last year. Holtby was badly outplayed and was the difference but Bonino outplayed Eller big time… The top 4 teams as of today are even heading into the playoffs… Doesnt matter where they finish… go with the top goalie and 3rd line… Flyers have problems in both areas. Is C Schneider ready? Holtby better be!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mr. Fleetwood, nothing could be further from the truth. Other things being equal–like the consistency of his linemates and the absence of significant injuries–Lars Eller is pretty much a known quantity. Historically you can pencil him in for 15 to 20 goals and—roughly—an equal number of assists. That, together with the fact that he’s a polar bear along the boards and creates space for his wingers makes him a valuable and, again, a known quantity….

    The same things can’t yet be said, though, for the two players Eller centers for—namely Brett Connolly and Andre Burakovsky. Both of them—for many of the same reasons—really ARE x-Factors. Take Brett Connolly, for instance. Coming from the Tampa Bay Lightning he had a reputation as a troubled, but talented player with a lightning quick release. After the Capitals picked him up, Brett scored 15 goals, if you’ll recall, in just 39 games last year… And coach Trotz rewarded him for it by sitting him down the stretch and then ignoring him ENTIRELY during last year’s playoffs—despite the fact that this team needed secondary scoring and could have used his shooting skill.

    Equally puzzling– to me at least–was the way Burakovsky was handled last season (and ever since) by his coach. If you remember the press blatherings last year, everybody in the local media pool was all agog over the 13 goals Andre had scored just prior to the injury he suffered which wound up costing him more than two months of last year’s campaign, if memory serves… But it was also pointed out by one of the writers that Burakovsky’s totals were even more remarkable given the fact that he’d only been averaging 13 minutes of ice time per game at the time…which begs the question: how much more productive could he have been if he’d been on the ice, say, for 18 to 20 minutes a game?

    Those speculations haven’t changed very much for either player, frankly, because they still don’t get enough time, in my opinion, to really hone their skills, reduce their inevitable mistakes and develop chemistry with each other. And in games where the top two lines are next to useless (outside of Alex Ovechklin), there’s even less reason for Trotz not to give his youngsters sufficient time in real game conditions to develop and improve their skills. After all, at this point it’s not about winning Lord Stanley’s Cup. We’ve had consecutive regular seasons with gaudy records that saw us get bounced out of the second round by the Pittsburgh Penguins—a team whose youngsters seem to get more mileage out of their young players than our team does…(ditto, by the way, for Tampa’s young quartet of Tyler Johnson, Vladislav Nemestnikov, Brayden Point and Yanni Gourde as well as the Winnipeg Jets’ trio of Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers and Patrik Laine who are 21, 21 and 19 years old respectively…)… We want to go DEEEP in the playoffs and win a Cup someday soon and that will NEVER happen unless our youngsters are given an extended chance to develop—and aren’t traded away prematurely in stop gap, corner cutting attempts to win a championship by sacrificing our future… Need I remind you again about GMGM’s dumb beyond belief trade deadline deal which brought us two future Hall-of-Famers in Martin Erat and Michael Latta in exchange for the one time jewel of our farm system Filip Forsberg?

    To sum up, if Burakovsky and Connolly are given enough time to mature under game situations, there’s no telling how good they could become. But because we won’t really know that until they’re given more PT, I think it’s fair to say that it’s THOSE TWO PLAYERS, and not Lars Eller, who would be more accurately thought of as X-Factors…

    Just Sayin’

    Clifford
    Sta. Monica

    Like

  3. Anonymous says:

    Tonight, the pens have a 32 to 23 shot lead yet winning 4-1 the Canes… Goaltending! NHL rejected the Brassard deal but they will find a way… so we have Eller b Brassard… Hope he steps up

    Like

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