Laviolette Praises Eller, Says Scratch Wouldn’t Have Lasted Regardless Of Dowd
Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette spoke on Lars Eller’s play and recent scratch and said that it wasn’t about his play by any means, and also added that he would have been back in the mix for Tuesday regardless of Nic Dowd’s status.
WASHINGTON — Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette has faced some difficult decisions with regard to the lineup, as he was balancing 14 healthy forwards with Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson finally healthy and ready to go. That has led to a number of forwards sitting out, and on Monday, it was Lars Eller's turn. However, Laviolette stressed it wasn't because of his performance.
Laviolette spoke on the decision to scratch Eller on Tuesday as No. 20 drew back into the mix against the Minnesota Wild with Nic Dowd suffering a lower-body injury against the New York Islanders that will keep him out "for a bit."
"Guys have to come out of the lineup, and by no means was it a reflection of his play. I thought he played a strong, physical game," Laviolette said, adding, "Once you start figuring out who's gonna come out and really for no reason you've got to move it around a little bit… Lars gets back in there as he was any way."
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Through 45 games this season, Eller has registered seven goals and eight assists, along with 32 PIM and a +/- of plus-4. He leads all centers in face-off wins (314) and FO% (54.8). The Dane is also among the team's shorthanded ice time leaders and top penalty killers.
With Eller drawing back in and another spot available with Dowd out, Laviolette chose to dress Nicolas Aube-Kubel against the Wild after he sat the last four games. Anthony Mantha then drew out as a healthy scratch, marking his third time watching from the press box in five games.
"It was a coach's decision," Laviolette said with regard to benching No. 39.