- The Recap: Game 5 – ECQF: Rangers vs. Habs
- The Recency Bias: Round 1 – Game 5
- What Just Happened? Rangers top Habs 3-2 in OT
- The Forum: The First Round… So Far
- Dwight King Not Proving His Worth
- What Just Happened? Rangers Even the Series
- The Recap: Game 4 – ECQF – Habs vs Rangers
- The Recency Bias: Round 1 – Game 4
- Montreal’s trade deadline acquisitions are paying off
- What Just Happened? Habs quiet Rangers, take 2-1 lead
Lars Eller’s Value to the Canadiens
- Updated: July 7, 2015
There is no doubt that Montreal Canadiens’ 3rd line center Lars Eller has received unfair scrutiny his entire career. Consistency seems to be the most prominent issue regarding the 26 year old. Lars Eller has been given tough defensive assignments, constant penalty kill time and averages 15-20 seconds on the PP per game.
Since Eller was a rookie, any linemate he has had was either scratched, traded, or moved (to another line). Throughout the 2012-2013 lockout season, Eller flourished when he was given Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk as his wingers, thus creating the EGG line. Even though it lasted for a short period of time, the EGG line was arguably the most exciting trio to watch on the team.
Playing part of the season with Gallagher and Galchenyuk and then being demoted to the 3rd line, throughout 46 GP, Eller knotted 8 goals and 22 assists for 30 points. This made Lars Eller the 2nd highest scoring forward next to Tomas Plekanec. This also put him 5th on the team for points.
Since then, Eller has never been given decent linemates to work with. Whenever he develops chemistry with his linemates, Michel Therrien is right there to split them up. As a young player who is still developing, it is unhealthy to be moved around as much as he has been. He is given inconsistent linemates such as Rene Bourque, Brian Gionta, Dale Weise, Brandon Prust, Brian Flynn, Devante Smith-Pelly, Jacob De La Rose and PA Parenteau.
Unlike the so called “top center” David Desharnais, Eller has minimal time on the power play and rarely gets offensive zone draws. He is given tough defensive assignments and is constantly being misused by Therrien. Despite all this, Eller is still tied with Max Pacioretty for game winning goals which is 8th in the league.
Eller plays on the defensive line, yet the media criticizes him for not performing in the regular season. Desharnais played 165 minutes on the power play and managed only two goals. Eller has 33 minutes (mostly starting in the defensive zone) and has one goal. This goes to show that Lars Eller has been carrying a subpar 3rd line in tough deployment way beyond expectations.
With Galchenyuk possibly moving to center, that makes room for Eller to center the 2nd line, with Plekanec on the 3rd or as possible trade bait. The logical move would be to trade David Desharnais who has been frustrating to watch ever since he started. He is supposedly a 1st or 2nd line center, but his offensive numbers do not warrant this reputation. Moreover, he is a one dimensional hockey player who doesn’t kill penalties, doesn’t play in a shutdown role, is not physical and rarely shoots the puck. He plays a passive style of hockey, often avoiding traffic, and as a result, his impact in any given game is insignificant. Whereas Lars Eller can play a shutdown role, can play the penalty kill, doesn’t avoid traffic, drives possession and creates the majority of scoring chances he’s given.
The weaknesses of Desharnais’s style of play are exasperated in tight checking playoff hockey to the point where he becomes invisible. When a player, especially a “top six center”, should be elevating his game – Desharnais does the opposite. His playoff performances in Montreal have been downright embarrassing. Playing top minutes, top power play time and gift wrapped offensive zone opportunities with Pacioretty on his wing (one of the premier goal scorers in the league), he has managed only three goals (one of which was an empty netter) and 10 assists in 38 playoff games. Those numbers are underwhelming to say the least. This is beyond unacceptable, especially for a team that is starved for offense.
Lars Eller, on the other hand, is a proven clutch playoff performer. In round one of this year’s playoffs against the Ottawa Senators, Eller had a 56.52% Corsi (+4.06% relative) with 19.05 offensive zone starts. In the 2014 playoffs, he was 2nd on the team for playoff points (right behind PK Subban) finishing the post season with five goals, eight assists for a total of 13 points. Eller has 18 points in 37 post season games. In a defensive shut down role, Eller has more points than Desharnais whose only responsibility is to generate offense. Eller obtained the majority of these points while playing with enigmatic veteran Rene Bourque and an aging captain Brian Gionta.
What are your thoughts? What should we expect from Lars Eller?
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