The Montreal Canadiens had been off to a pretty good start to the 2013-14 NHL season, while the Edmonton Oilers had not. That’s why comments from Canadiens forward Lars Eller acted as big-time bulletin board material in advance of their matchup at Bell Centre. In talking about the opposition, Eller had stated that the Oilers “play like a junior team sometimes” noting that they could be all over the place and didn’t play with much structure.
Well the remarks galvanized an Oiler squad that was looking for something to rally around, and they went on to defeat Montreal by a 4-3 count. It’s one thing for intense Oiler head coach Dallas Eakins to criticize his charges, however, comments from the opposition definitely were used as fuel. The win improved their record to 3-6-1 and ended a lengthy road trip with back to back victories. In his post-game media scrum, Eakins categorized Eller’s comments as the equivalent of receiving a fruit basket with a bottle of wine from the opposition.
Eller was a non-factor on the score sheet in just over 19 minutes of ice time and was a -1 on the night. Not surprisingly he seemed to be in the middle of a number of scrums during the contest as the Oilers obviously wanted to send a message to Eller whenever they had a chance. Eller is off to a solid start to the season with five goals and three assists, but now all of a sudden Montreal have been bitten by the injury bug. Forwards Brandon Prust, Daniel Briere and Max Pacioretty have all been sidelined in the last week or so.
After the second straight home ice defeat which dropped Montreal to 5-4 on the season, Canadiens’ bench boss Michel Therrien referred to Eller’s comments as unacceptable and hoped that the young player with a bright future had learned a difficult lesson. You can bank there won’t be any more junior hockey references made by him when it comes to an opponent anytime soon. No matter the record of the team you are playing against, Eller found out the hard way that there’s no sense in poking a wounded bear.
Rick LaFitte is an NHL Writer for Rant Sports