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With a defined role, Lars Eller is fitting in nicely in Washington

With a defined role, Lars Eller is fitting in nicely in Washington

Adjusting to a new team is always difficult, but when much of that team is missing, including the head coach, that can make it even more challenging. That's the position Lars Eller finds himself in to start camp with the Washington Capitals.

So far, however, Eller seems unfazed by it all.

“It’s very different, in a good way," Eller said. "It’s new inspiration for me. New faces, new everything. I think this change comes at a good time for me and I’m really excited to get started. I feel really energized.”


Despite the challenges Eller faces in camp of adjusting to his new teammates, change is just what the doctor ordered for the Danish forward.

Eller went to Montreal as part of a trade that saw playoff hero Jaroslav Halak shipped to St. Louis. That put him into a position in which he had to win over an often unforgiving Montreal fan base. Doing so proved difficult especially as head coach Michel Therrien moved Eller all throughout his lineup. Eller cycled from line to line and from center to winger and was never able to cement his role on the team.

In Washington, Eller will not face the same scrutiny he faced in Montreal. Most importantly, the Caps offer him something he never had in Montreal: A defined role.

"I think my role is going to be be a strong third line center and being able to play both ends of the ice but bring some offense to the third line," Eller said. "I think the best teams in the league, to compete for a Cup, you need good depth down the middle, you good need good depth down the lineup. You need to have three, maybe four lines scoring.”

Depth became a weakness for the Caps in their playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins as Washington was unable to find offensive production after their top lines were shut down. The Penguins meanwhile were able to find points from all four lines, especially the third. To bolster their depth, general manager Brian MacLellan traded for Eller to bolster the team's third line.

While Eller is set, the pieces around him are not. In what may be a preview of what the third line will ultimately look like, Eller skated with Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams on Friday as training camp began.

“They’re both highly skilled, really good players," Eller said of his linemates. "They can both pass and they can both finish, certainly. Jojo’s an extremely good skater and Justin Williams is, in my opinion, one of the smartest players in the league. ... I would love to play with those guys.”

But before the line can be set, Eller will have to wait until the rest of the players return from the World Cup. He still has to meet a few before the coaches can determine who he will play with.

MORE CAPITALS: 5 storylines to monitor as camp begins

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Game 72 Capitals at Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

USA Today Sports

Game 72 Capitals at Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pa.

When: 5:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Flyers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Flyers game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.


The Capitals (41-23-7) take on the Flyers (36-25-11) Sunday, March 18 at 5:00 p.m. ET in Philadelphia.


The Capitals-Flyers game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

4:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
4:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
5:00 p.m. — Capitals at Flyers
7:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
8:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
9:00 p.m. — Caps in 30


The Capitals-Flyers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov considered day-to-day, will miss Sunday's game in Philadelphia

USA Today Sports

Evgeny Kuznetsov considered day-to-day, will miss Sunday's game in Philadelphia

Evgeny Kuznetsov has been declared day-to-day with an undisclosed upper body injury, the Caps announced Saturday afternoon.

He will not play Sunday against the Flyers, marking the first time in four seasons that the durable 25-year-old center will have missed a game.

Kuznetsov, the Caps’ assists leader and first line pivot over the past week, was injured in the second period of Friday’s 6-3 win over the Islanders. On the play, he slashed on the arm by New York defenseman Thomas Hickey before he tumbled awkwardly into the end boards.


Kuznetsov did not return to the contest.

The Caps did not practice on Saturday as they made their way to Philadelphia, where they'll look to extend their winning streak to five games.  

The team, per usual, did not elaborate about the extent or nature of Kuznetsov’s injury. But it does seem to be a good sign that he was not listed as week-to-week—the designation the Caps typically reserve for more severe injuries. And with a two point lead on Pittsburgh in the Metro Division standings—and a game in hand—they can actually afford to be cautious with one of their most important players.


The injury does, however, come at a time when Kuznetsov appeared to be hitting his stride. Including the two assists he had racked up prior to leaving Friday’s game, Kuzy has amassed five goals and 11 assists in 10 games.    

Without Kuznetsov on Sunday, Nicklas Backstrom, Lars Eller and Jay Beagle will be the team’s most experienced centers. Travis Boyd and/or Chandler Stephenson figure to be deployed as the fourth pivot.

Coach Barry Trotz is expected to meet with reporters prior to Sunday’s game. It’s possible he’ll shed some more light on Kuznetsov’s outlook at that time.

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