Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/23/13
Lars Eller wasn’t in the Canadiens dressing room Tuesday night following his team’s 4-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers so he wasn’t available to clarify his comments of earlier in the day. Eller had suggested that the Oilers “play a little bit like a junior team” and oh my did Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins and his team get some mileage out of that. Knowing the Habs 24-year-old centreman he wasn’t speaking at his team’s morning skate to insult the visitor; he wasn’t ridiculing the organization or making fun of the 2-6-1 record it brought to the Bell Centre. In his own pragmatic way I’m guessing Eller was offering his own clinical assessment of the Oilers. Eller is not the type to jab a pointed stick in an opponent. But that loud bang you heard in the Bell Centre? That was the sound of a backfire. The Oilers Eller had added in the morning “take a lot of risks a lot of chances. They’re a little all over the place. There’s not a lot of structure always in their game. It can really be anything. You don’t know. “I prefer a little more structured game” he said. “Then again I don’t mind high-scoring games too.” Eller might not have been entirely wrong after the first period the Canadiens up 2-0. But then the Habs’ foot slipped off the gas pedal perhaps knocked off it by a riled energized Oilers lineup that like Montreal’s was depleted by injuries. And just before the Canadiens found a gearbox full of neutral they discovered the one marked with R. As in reverse. Four unanswered goals by Edmonton stunned the Bell crowd and sent the Canadiens to their second straight loss in the third game of this five-game homestand. Captain Brian Gionta’s goal scored with three seconds left almost stopped the fans who were flooding the exits. Eakins emerged into the cameras and notebooks not long afterward and before he was even asked a question he began clearly insulted by Eller’s remarks: “It’s games like that that you don’t even really need to go play” the coach said. “When you have a player like Lars Eller running his mouth before the game it makes for great banter in our dressing room and great motivation. We thank Lars Eller for his comments before the game.” In this high-tech age I asked Eakins is there such a thing as “bulletin-board material” one team digitally clipping another’s remarks to use as fuel? “Absolutely. Absolutely” he replied. “You’ve got some young player who’s trying to get his feet wet calling an organization a junior team. People take notice. “I knew it was going to turn. It’s just one of those things. That is a total hockey-god thing and I’m sure that young man has learned his lesson and I highly doubt you’ll ever see anything like that out of his mouth again.” Canadiens coach Michel Therrien suggested in his post-game briefing that Eller’s words had been “inappropriate” and perhaps needlessly added that his young centre has learned from them. The Oilers Eakins said came into their room after the first period outshot 14-7 and beaten 83-17 per cent in the faceoff circle and “regrouped a little bit. “I thought we needed to bring our compete level up a little higher” he said. “I thought we needed to get into the fight a bit more and after that first intermission our players certainly dug their heels in. We had some big performances through those last two periods.” Edmonton was wrapping up a six-game road trip and could either have mailed this one in after 20 bad minutes and gone home to hit the reset button or they could have risen off the mat. They chose the latter route. “That’s a large win for our club to be able to come back in this building this is an amazing building to play in” Eakins said. “I’ve always loved to come in here and experience the games there’s such an electricity and to be able to come back after being down and win is a great great job by our players.”
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