ARLINGTON, Va. — A lower-body injury limited Lars Eller in the playoffs and cut his World Championship short after just three games, but it is not going to limit him heading into training camp.
“I’m over that,” Eller told NBC Sports Washington. “Taken good care of that and it’s not an issue right now.”
Eller was at MedStar Captials Iceplex on Thursday taking part in an informal skate with several teammates who have begun to trickle back to Washington as the start of training camp approaches. Eller took part in all drills, the scrimmage and the conditioning skate seemingly without issue.
The lower-body injury was not enough to keep him out of the playoffs last season, but he did take several maintenance days.
“I've been battling something,” Eller said in April at the team’s breakdown day. “Something that's been bugging me. A little bit of rest these next couple of weeks. Just have to take care of it. It doesn't require surgery, it's nothing serious, just with some rest over time, it will be fine, I believe.”
Despite the need for rest, Eller elected to play for Denmark in the IIHF World Championship soon after.
“Giving it some time, I felt I was healthy enough to go and play,” Eller siad. “I still kind of wanted to play and help my country and after some time, I felt good enough to say, OK, I'm going to do this.”
Initially, Eller did not appear limited at all with four points in his first game. By the third game, however, he was forced to withdraw from the tournament.
Despite a report from Denmark claiming Eller had an agreement in place to play in only three games, he said the decision was made to leave the tournament after he re-aggravated the injury.
“Reaggravated it and we just shut it down after those three games and really took time to properly rehab and build my program around that for the first many weeks and get treatment, try to make sure it doesn't come back to bite me,” Eller said.
Leaving Worlds has given Eller plenty of time to heal which is good because he will face a new challenge this year.
Gone are Brett Connolly who was a mainstay on Eller’s line which means Eller will have to get used to some different linemates in the upcoming season.
“It's going to be different,” Eller said. “Both [Connolly and Andre Burakovsky are] two guys I probably spent the most time here with the last three years. We had some really good success all three of us at times. That's going to be a new challenge. I have a good feeling about the guys I'm likely going to play with. It's just a new challenge, but I feel good about it.”
The first step to adjusting to a new line? Getting healthy. A lengthy summer seems to have helped with that.
Though unfortunate, the early playoff exit gave Washington a long offseason in which players like Eller could focus on rest and rehab. That is time Eller tried to take advantage of before the grind of another season and what he hopes will be another long postseason run.
“A little longer than last year,” he said of the summer. “All the time I needed to get away and also get the body right for the season.”
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