Washington Capitals center Lars Eller was to-the-point and honest as he shared his thoughts on the team’s rough end to the egular season.
Washington ended an injury-riddled, inconsistent campaign on a tough note, dropping a 3-2 decision to the New York Rangers in Game 82.
The Capitals ended the year on a four-game losing skid, and with a final record of 44-26-12, they finished in the second WIld Card spot and are set for a showdown with the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Florida Panthers. And ultimately, Eller admitted that he and the team aren’t thrilled with their recent play going into the playoffs.
“The last few games here we just haven’t really been emotionally invested int the game. Like we’re there but we’re not really there… [the Islanders games were] embarrassing. I don’t recognize us out there.”
Since Alex Ovechkin was injured in the third peirod of Sunday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington has been outscored 14-4. The Capitals have also been unable to truly find a spark on special teams or get back to their brand of hockey.
“We can’t play like we did… going into the playoffs,” head coach Peter Laviolette emphasized back on Tuesday. “This isn’t who we are. This isn’t our M.O.”
READ MORE ON WHN: Takeaways From Capitals’ Regular-Season Finale In NYC
Eller agreed, and said that the team will get a chance to get away from the rink before returning for the opening round next week. Washington has not made it past Round 1 since its Stanley Cup run back in 2018.
“Now we got to reset and we have games that really matter. I know what we’re capable of doing so that gives me confidence,” Eller added.
When it comes to the biggest challenges Flroida presents, Eller cited the team’s scoring ability and speed. The Panthers lead the league with an average of 4.14 goals per game. While the Capitals aren’t first, the team is still in the top-10 for GF/G (3.29). They also allow the 13th-least goals per game (2.95).
Ultimately, Eller said that the group will have to adapt and be prepared for a tough go-of-it. Still, he is confident the group can rally.
“It’s gonna be fun. They’re the best team in the league this year so it’s a huge challenge for us. But I think our team… can adjust and we can be successful,” Eller noted.