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Caps' Eller hopeful about Wednesday, says injury is not a new one

Caps' Eller hopeful about Wednesday, says injury is not a new one

Lars Eller says he felt “good” after Tuesday's practice and hopes to return to the lineup Wednesday night.

Coach Barry Trotz also said he’s hopeful of getting the checking line center back against the Blues.

“As of right now, without talking to any of trainers, I think he will be a ‘possible’,” said Trotz, who added that he’ll have a minor leaguer ‘on alert’ just in case Eller (upper body, day-to-day) has a setback.

RELATED: Cal Ripken attends Caps practice, addresses team

After sitting out Monday’s practice, Eller rejoined his teammates for Tuesday’s session and participated in all of the drills except for the ones that called for full contact.  

“Small steps in the right direction, but today was a good day,” Eller said. “We’ll evaluate again tomorrow [but] I would expect that unless I have any setbacks I’ll be on the ice again tomorrow morning [for the pregame skate] and we’ll take a decision after that.”

Eller added: “I felt good within the limits of we put out there for me—no contact—but I felt good skating. I was pain free. So we’ll take another step tomorrow and see how it feels...it’s heading in the right direction.”

Eller acknowledged that he was already nicked up entered Friday’s game against the Red Wings. The hit that Tyler Bertuzzi laid on Eller during his first shift of the game simply “triggered” the preexisting ailment.

“It was something that was lingering before the game and after one shift there was just no way I could go any further,” Eller said. “The [Bertuzzi] hit kind of triggered it, but if it wasn’t going to happen there, it was going to happen the next shift or the shift after.”

Eller (2 goals, 0 assists) practiced on the fourth line Tuesday, centering wingers Daniel Winnik and Tom Wilson.

MORE CAPITALS: Eller returns to practice

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

The Eastern Conference Final is going the distance!

After losing three straight to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Capitals won Game 6 to force a Game 7 in Tampa Bay. Can the Caps beat the Lightning one more time and advance to the Stanley Cup Final?

JJ Regan, Tarik El-Bashir and special guest cameraman Mike D break it all down.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Due to schedule and time constraints, this podcast was recorded by phone and the audio quality is not up to our usual standards.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Caps push Lightning around in Game 6 with physical game plan

Caps push Lightning around in Game 6 with physical game plan

As the NHL continues to focus more on speed and skill, the Capitals took a very old-school approach to Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. From the moment the puck dropped until the clock hit zero, it was clear Washington came into Monday with a very physical game plan.

"It made a big difference," T.J. Oshie said. "I think in these games, everyone’s bringing energy and you kind of want to control that and direct it towards some positive play, some momentum building for your team, and tonight I think we handled that and did that pretty well."

"We just wanted to throw everything we had at them," Stephenson said. "It was a do or die game and we don't want our season to end."

It worked.

The scoresheet officially credited the Caps with 39 hits for the game. The Lightning had only 19. The physical play seemed to wear down Tampa Bay as the game went on.

After an even first period, Washington took a 1-0 lead in the second. Then, very fittingly, a physical fourth line extended that lead to 2-0 in the third to finish the Lightning off.

"All of a sudden now we turn a puck over, you’re back in your end, they’re feeling it, they’re being physical, crowd’s behind them and we’re spending way too much time in our D zone," Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said. "That’s what hurt us."

What made it so effective was the fact that the entire team bought into it. Alex Ovechkin was certainly the most noticeable player as he threw himself around like a wrecking ball against everyone wearing a white jersey. But it was not just his line. Tom Wilson and Brooks Orpik each led the team with six hits, Devante Smith-Pelly recorded five of his own while Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom both had four.

The Lightning faced a constant barrage from the Caps from every line and defensive pair. There was no respite.

The hits also gave the fans plenty to cheer for.

The Caps were playing an elimination game at home and Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy was standing on his head. Even with the score locked at 0-0 through the first period, the crowd was still very much into the game. There was no apprehension, there was no quiet tension. There was just a loud crowd cheering on its team.

"[The fans] were loud right from the start, which I think we fed off of and wanted to give them something back," Brooks Orpik said. "We didn't get a goal early. I think some of the physical play kind of helped carry that. They were great for us."

Now in the third round of the playoffs after six intense games between the Caps and Lightning, the hope is that Game 6's physical play will continue to take its toll on Tampa Bay heading into Game 7.

"We need to do that every game," Nicklas Backstrom said. "That's our forecheck. Hopefully, we can keep it going here in Game 7."

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