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