On Saturday afternoon, Washington Capitals center Lars Eller spoke to the media on a Zoom call following practice on the eleventh day of training camp. He discussed playing with linemates, Carl Hagelin and Ilya Kovalchuk, and his biggest difference playing now.
Eller says he “enjoys” playing with linemates, Hagelin and Kovalchuk. He credits Kovalchuk with great goal-scoring abilities and Hagelin being smart on the ice calling the trio a “good mix” to being successful.
The 31-year old Dane grew up watching Kovalchuk. Eller said he hasn’t seen a guy that age (37) so “hungry, motivated, and outspoken”. “He still loves the game as much as he probably did when he was 18,” Eller added. He calls Kovalchuk’s attitude and energy “contagious”.
The Capitals will be staying at Toronto’s Hotel X, along with the other top-five teams in the Eastern Conference. Eller mentioned the team will likely explore around the hotel and throughout the bubble to see what’s available to them. “I’m looking forward to it,” Eller said. He believes the team will not get “too bored” as numerous Capitals players have expressed playing card games, video games, and even ping pong to keep busy.
“I think the biggest difference would be playing without anybody in the stands,” Eller said about details and overall differences playing due to the new health and safety protocols. “It’s still hard to wrap your head around the thought.”
He complimented goaltender Braden Holtby‘s performance throughout camp saying he has been “looking good”. “We’re going to need him to be one of our best players,” Eller said, adding the team has “all the confidence in the world” in the 30-year old goaltender. Although he will miss Ilya Samsonov, who sustained an injury prior to training camp and will not travel with the team to Toronto, Eller said he “feels good about the guys [Holtby, Pheonix Copley, Vitek Vanecek] we have in the net.”
By Della Young