1. Rough day for Lars Eller, starting with
pegged jorts car trouble...
Lars Eller's car broke down during his morning commute, and guess which teammate came to his rescue? pic.twitter.com/yj6pQeLKjf— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) April 8, 2019
... and ending with a far more curious early departure from practice.
Seems Lars Eller left practice early.— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) April 8, 2019
Reirden says Eller just took a maintenance day for an “upper-body” injury. He started practice, but they didn’t feel the need to push it more today with game 1 not until Thursday. No concern for his game 1 availability.— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) April 8, 2019
No concern for Game 1 availability? Cool. But any time a guy (a Stanley Cup-winning goal-scorer, no less... remember when he did that?) starts but doesn’t finish practice, it warrants at least a small eyebrow raise.
Thankfully it appears as if Le Tigre is just fine:
Lars Eller just stepped on the ice for Capitals optional practice today after leaving early yesterday for what coach Todd Reirden called upper-body maintenance.— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) April 9, 2019
2. The Caps seem committed to at least starting with John Carlson on the left side of the top defensive pairing alongside Nick Jensen (and be sure to check out a brand new episode of Japers’ Rink Radio with superstar guest Isabelle Khurshudyan for much more on this topic).
#Caps lines— JJ Regan (@JJReganNBCS) April 8, 2019
Vrana-Boyd (Eller just left)-Connolly
This... doesn’t sound great.
Not bold prediction: John Carlson - who is putting the finishing touches on the best season of his career - playing his natural right side with Christian Djoos on the left is and will be better than pushing Carlson to the left side to get Nick Jensen into that top pair.— Japers' Rink (@JapersRink) April 5, 2019
And it doesn’t sound great, because it hasn’t been great (but also because it really just doesn’t sound great).
Obviously that’s a tiny sample... over which the tandem is sporting a 31.1 Corsi-For percentage and a 27.2 expected Goals-For percentage (per Natural Stat Trick). By the way, when reporters talk to the Caps’ top blueliner about his new partner, they’re talking to Carly re: Jensen.
Anyway, whatever the answer, the Caps had best find it ASAP:
Post trade deadline and pre-Kempny injury, the Caps were clocking a +0.65 xG difference per 60 at 5v5 (2.7xGF/60, 2.05xGA/60). Since the Kempny injury, they've clocked 2.29xGF/60 and 2.52xGA/60. The coaching staff has got to figure the pairings out, and quick, or they're hosed.— Michael Stanford (@HalfAgain) April 8, 2019
That Kempny injury sucks so hard. The good news? The left-for-dead second pair of Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen has gotten their stuff together nicely without much fanfare:
Good news bros, our eyes weren't lying about Orlov-Niskanen getting better as the season went along. After the All Star break they've been great. Maybe they just partied too hard in the summer haha pic.twitter.com/Btd7250vwI— Luke Adomanis (@LukeAdomanis) April 8, 2019
3. Our old friend Stanley was in town yesterday, looking as sharp as ever...
... and the ice at Cap One is ready for a couple of months of action.