MINSK, Belarus – Olaf Eller watched from afar on his computer as his son Lars and the Montreal Canadiens lost Game 5 to the Boston Bruins, and he didn’t believe the series would end well.
That changed after talking to his 25-year-old son that night.
“He is always very honest,” Olaf Eller said Thursday at the world hockey championship. “So I was a little bit surprised when I got the strong feeling from him that they would win that series. After Game 5, he was very clear and very sharp: ‘We’re gonna win that thing.’ That was not the opinion I had after Game 5.
“After Game 5, I didn’t think they would win. But he said, ‘We are all very sure that we’re gonna run them out.'”
Run them out, the Habs did 4-0 in Game 6 before finishing off the Bruins with a 3-1 victory in Game 7 on Wednesday night. That was not a result Eller, coach of Denmark’s junior team, could have predicted earlier this week.
But he felt OK going into the series, based on this past regular season.
“You could see during the season that they had the assets, the tools,” said Eller, who is in Minsk as a member of the Danish team’s support staff. “You could see that in the games against Boston during the season, they were able to play a good game against Boston. … I had a feeling that if they could come around Tampa, I had the feeling they could beat Boston.”
It’s not easy for Eller and his wife to be in Minsk right now. In addition to Lars being in the East final that begins Saturday against the New York Rangers, 18-year-old son Mads is in the Memorial Cup with the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Olaf Eller finds a way to watch all the games on his computer from in Europe—he only missed one game of the Habs-Bruins series—and talks to Lars after each one. The post-Game 7 conversation was a particularly enjoyable one.
“He was very, very happy,” Eller said of his son. “They were in the bus on their way to the airport, so everybody was very happy.”
Lars Eller has nine points through 11 games, leading Montreal forwards in scoring and trailing just star defenceman P.K. Subban. His father is proud of how his son rebounded from a rough regular season.
“He managed to start another season, show that the post-season is another season and he has been good in the playoffs,” said Olaf Eller, who plans to go to Montreal if the Habs reach the Stanley Cup final.
Beyond just being a hockey dad, Eller is the coach of Esbjerg IK in Denmark’s top hockey league. Because of that, he has an appreciation for the adjustments Montreal coach Michel Therrien and his staff made in these playoffs to get to this point.
Eller praised Therrien for shuffling Daniel Briere, Brandon Prust, Travis Moen, Francis Bouillon, Douglas Murray and Nathan Beaulieu in and out of the lineup at the right times.
“I think the coaching staff, by their analyzing of their opponents, by their ability to adjust the team in the lineup from game-to-game … made a huge success there,” he said. “All those small adjustments paid off, eh?”
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