Washington Capitals: Eller and Hagelin doing right for their families

Carl Hagelin, Lars Eller, Washington Capitals (Photo by David Hahn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Carl Hagelin, Lars Eller, Washington Capitals (Photo by David Hahn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The third line of the Washington Capitals may look much more depleted if they go deep into the playoffs.

As reported by Samantha Pell of the Washington Post, Lars Eller will be leaving the bubble in Toronto, Ontario to accompany his wife as she welcomes their second child into the world. Their baby is expected August 8th, which, as Washington Capitals fans know, is the date of the final game of the round-robin tournament to decide the seeding amongst the top-four teams in the Eastern Conference heading into the postseason.

What this means is that Eller will have to leave the bubble prior to that final game, travel to where his wife will deliver the baby, travel back, and then have to isolate in a hotel room for four straight days until he can provide four consecutive negative tests for COVID-19.

Eller debated opting out of the unfamiliar postseason altogether, and said that there were “a lot of thoughts going into the decision,” courtesy of ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski. Eller continued by saying that “at the same time, I want to be with my team and win another Cup.”

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Carl Hagelin‘s situation is a little different. Hagelin and his wife are not expecting their child until September. Since his baby isn’t due until what would be later in the postseason, Hagelin didn’t have as tough of a time deciding on whether or not to join his team in Toronto.

“For me, I spoke to my wife, too, and she said, ‘As long as you come back when the kid is born, you’re welcome to leave,’” said Hagelin, according to the Washington Post’s Samantha Pell. “She knows hockey is a big part of my life and it’s a big part of our family’s life, and so we have an opportunity here to win the Stanley Cup and that’s the goal right now.”

Add Eller and Hagelin to the long list of Capitals who added new additions to their families during the break. They join Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, Nick Jensen, Nic Dowd (all of the “Nicks” had kids), and not to mention Alex Ovechkin, who welcomed his second boy.

What this means, however, is that if the Capitals happen to make it to the second round, or even the Conference Finals, they would be without their penalty-killing specialist, Carl Hagelin, for a few games at least.

Lars Eller is an exceptional third-line centre who is on the verge of being a second-line centre. He was also a key-component to the Caps when they won their Stanley Cup in 2018, as he had to move around the lineup to fill in for injuries to both Backstrom and Kuznetsov, and did so marvellously. The Tiger is also coming off of a career year, in which he had 16 goals and 23 assists for 39 points in only 69 games. Losing Eller may not seem big on the outside, looking in, but the Capitals and their fans know how crucial Eller is to the team’s success.

Lars Eller, Washington Capitals (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Lars Eller, Washington Capitals (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Hagelin, on the other hand, has been an elite penalty-killer for Washington this year and is one of the main reasons the Capitals had the 6th-best penalty kill in the league at the time of the stoppage. That could be crucial down the line if the Caps make it to the second round or, even better, the Conference Finals, where special teams become vital to a team’s success.

Overall, the Capitals’ third line will be weaker than it was heading into the postseason. Fortunately, both players wouldn’t be missing at the same time (unless Eller’s tests go very poorly), but missing one of them at all is never a good thing.

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Hopefully, one or some of the forwards the Capitals are bringing along will be able to step up and help the team when they need it most. For now, let’s just all thank John Carlson who chose to impregnate his wife when it won’t impact the Capitals heading into the playoffs.

Thanks for that, John.