“Yeah ... didn’t feel like pushing to making things worse," said Eller, the team’s third-line center. "Just rehab rest today and taking care of it throughout the day yesterday and this morning and today, I didn’t feel any pain anymore.”
But Eller’s body wasn’t the only thing that broke down Monday — his car did, too.
“Yeah, it was a tough morning," Eller said of Monday’s series of events. "Car breaks down, body breaks down, but everything is working today. So, yeah it is just going to go the right way from here.”
On his way to the Capitals’ practice facility in Arlington, Eller’s Mercedes-Benz broke down in the middle of Glebe Road. Eller said he tried pressing on the gas at a stoplight, but his car was unresponsive. So Eller had to leave his car on the street, smack dab in the middle lane during morning traffic.
Luckily, teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov was a couple of cars behind him when he broke down and offered a ride to practice. With Kuznetsov’s help, Eller made it in time for his interview with the Sports Junkies on 106.7 the Fan. While Eller was doing his interview, team security retrieved the car and brought it to the conveniently located dealership right next to the Capitals’ practice facility.
"Got it fixed really quick. By the time practice was over, it was good to go and driving as good as ever,” Eller said.
Aside from defenseman Michal Kempny’s torn hamstring, Washington has no significant injuries heading into the postseason. Last year, former Capitals center Jay Beagle was the only player hurt heading into the playoffs, but he only missed the first game of the postseason and was available for the rest of the Capitals’ run.
Capitals don't plan to recall Smith-Pelly ... yet
With the salary cap no longer a concern in the postseason, the Washington Capitals have the option of recalling forward Devante Smith-Pelly, who scored seven goals in last year’s Stanley Cup run, equaling his regular season total.
Washington waived Smith-Pelly before the trade deadline in late February to clear salary cap space for the acquisition of winger Carl Hagelin, and while Smith-Pelly remains in the organization with the Capitals’ American Hockey League affiliate in Hershey, it doesn’t appear he’ll be recalled before Thursday’s Game 1 against the Carolina Hurricanes.
“We have guys here that have played well," General Manager Brian MacLellan said. "We played really well down the stretch. We’re not anxious to make changes, but we’re open to whatever it takes. If we need Devante, he’s played well down there and we’ll use him.”
Hershey recently clinched a Calder Cup playoff berth, and Smith-Pelly has six goals and six assists in 17 games. He had struggled this season with Washington and was held out for the majority of preseason games because of conditioning issues. He then was in and out of the lineup as he recorded four goals and four assists in 54 games. The Capitals are expected to start the playoffs with a fourth line of center Nic Dowd and wingers Andre Burakovsky and Chandler Stephenson.
Because Hershey is postseason-bound — the Bears still have four regular-season games left — Washington won’t bring up a bunch of support players like it did last year, but MacLellan said that’s for the best.
“I think it’s more advantageous because these guys get to keep playing vs. having a guy come up and do the extra players’ skate, where you lose your game a little bit," MacLellan said. "You lose the timing of it. So, if we have guys down there that we’re considering bringing up, then they’re playing. They’re playing power play, they’re playing penalty kill, and I think their game stays sharper. If we need them, we can call them up.”