In Wednesday’s opener, Lars Eller was left bloodied after a fight with Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand. What was Eller’s offense? Celebrating a goal.
Eller scored in the third period to put Washington up 7-0. As he skated to the bench, he was seen celebrating the goal. That did not sit well with Marchand.
“His celebration was unnecessary,” Marchand said after the game. “He took an angle in front of our bench and celebrated in a 7-0 game. So I just let him know.”
Eller, however, disputes that he was doing anything to show up the Bruins.
“I’ve never done anything in my career to provocate the opposition team,” Eller said Saturday to NBC Sports Washington. “I was doing a gesture towards one of my teammates, I was having eye contact with him as I went to our bench and they didn't like that. I think he was just sour from probably losing and if you're looking for something to get mad about you can always find something.”
Eller also said that he and Marchand did not speak beforehand, Marchand just simply dropped the gloves.
“Just kind of jumped me. He was yelling from the bench after we scored when I went by my bench.”
“I wasn’t looking to fight,” Eller added. “Obviously he was so by the time we were into it, I didn't have much choice. I wasn't very well prepared for that, but I'll be better prepared next time.”
Eller has not been in a fight at any point in his NHL career prior to Wednesday.
Todd Reirden hinted after Wednesday’s game that he felt supplemental discipline was warranted for Marchand, saying, “We'll let other people take care of that.”
On Saturday he expressed disappointment in the league for deciding not to discipline a repeat offender.
“For me, it's about protecting our players and having repeat offenders with things like that I think need to be dealt with differently,” Reirden said. “We've kind of seen that with our own situation.”
This all sets up for a contentious matchup the next time these two teams meet.
The Caps head to Boston on January 10, well after Tom Wilson’s 20-game suspension ends, and the two teams meet again in Washington on Feb. 3.
“We play them two more times this year so we'll see what happens,” Eller said. “We'll handle that. We'll see what happens next game.”
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