Lars Eller gets it.
“At some point in your career you have to define what kind of player your going to be. I feel that’s where I’m at right now,” said Eller following Saturday night’s 3-0 win over the Rangers at the Bell Centre.
Eller and his linemates, Erik Cole and Alex Galchenyuk, each chipped in with a goal and an assist while Carey Price kicked out 17 for his second shutout of the season.
Eller, who rode the bench earlier this season (there was much gnashing of teeth on the part of Habs’ fans over THAT move, I’ll tell ya) has seen his game steadily improve since emerging from Michel Therrien’s doghouse. And Saturday night he offered up the complete package: a goal, an assist, and a team-leading three hits; on a night when the Rangers outhit the Habs 32-12.
Eller credits Coach Therrien, and the work of the team’s sports’ psychologist, for his turnaround this season, but acknowledged that “although you can lead a horse to water, you can’t force him to drink.” Those were my words. These were Eller’s:
“You can get the guidelines and point the player in the right direction but in the end you have to do the work yourself.”
Lars Eller has been doing the work, and then some.
Now, before we get into more of the nitty gritty of Saturday’s game, count me among those who, when the Canadiens sent Jaroslav Halak to the St. Louis Blues for Lars Eller (and Ian Schultz) responded with:
“That’s all the Habs could pry out of the Blues for a goalie who took the Canadiens on a magical playoff ride?”
Yes. That’s all. But with the way Eller has responded to Therrien behind the bench, it could be more than enough to make up for the departure of the popular netminder.
Oh. Right. Last night.
This one wasn’t pretty over the opening 20 minutes. In fact, it was downright ugly in terms of entertainment value as the two teams skated through a first period that produced a grand total of nine shots.
Three by the Canadiens.
The Habs got it going with Cole’s third of the season at 1:20 of the second period. Galchenyuk made it 2-0 at 13:36 of the middle frame with his third of the year. And Eller sealed the deal with 26 seconds to play in the middle frame: a power play goal that beat Martin Biron from well out.
Carey Price did the rest .