Laviolette Explains Eller Being Healthy Scratch For Capitals vs. Islanders
Here’s why Lars Eller is a healthy scratch for the Washington Capitals — and it’s not as complex as it seems.
Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette has faced some difficult lineup decisions over the last week, as the returns of Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson make for 14 healthy forwards. And on Monday against the New York Islanders, it'll be Lars Eller's turn to draw out.
Laviolette didn't offer too much when it comes to why No. 20 drew the short straw, saying that it's all part of the team's plan.
"Just the rotation of forwards," he told reporters after practice, adding that Dylan Strome would make his return after a healthy scratch on Saturday.
Eller has had a tough go recently, as he has gone eight games without a goal and six without a point. Still, the 33-year-old plays a vital role on the penalty kill and leads the team in face-off wins and FO%, which appeared to draw into Laviolette's decision to scratch Strome over him last game.
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Along with Strome and Eller, Anthony Mantha also took a turn being a healthy scratch and sat two games as Laviolette continued to experiment with different lines and combinations. Mantha, who said he needed to improve his all-around game and work ethic following the scratch, returned on Saturday. He will play on the second line on Monday. Strome, meanwhile, will be back on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Conor Sheary.
Through 44 games this season, Eller has seven goals and eight assisters, along with a +/- of plus-4 and 30 penalty minutes. Back on Saturday in the 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, he had four shots and a costly penalty through 12:53 minutes of ice time.
Washington will face New York at 7:30 p.m. ET. The team will then fly back to D.C. for a showdown with the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.