Lars Eller thinks Oilers 'play a little bit like a junior team'

Eller leads the Habs with five goals this season in eight games. (USATSI)
Eller leads the Habs with five goals this season in eight games. (USATSI)

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The Edmonton Oilers have a lot of young guys on their team, players who could either still be playing at the junior level or are just barely past the deadline.

Still, what Montreal Canadiens forward Lars Eller said before Tuesday night's game against the Oilers probably won't go over very well. NHL teams usually wouldn't take kindly to being compared to a junior team.

Courtesy of Canoe.ca's Chris Stevenson, here's Eller's thoughts on what to expect from the Oilers:

"It can be anything, you know? They play a little bit like a junior team, I think, sometimes," said Eller, tied for the scoring lead among Habs forwards along with linemate Alex Galchenyuk with seven points in seven games.

"They take a lot 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. Then again, I don't mind high-scoring games, too. Obviously, we're going to try with their skilled players to limit their chances."

OK, is it absolutely incendiary stuff from Eller? Probably not. He's not calling the Oilers a junior team, he's simply saying that in a way they play like a junior team stylistically, a little more free-flowing and open. Still, these are NHL players and NHL coaches, being linked to a junior team isn't exactly a compliment.

I'm not sure who should be more offended by Eller's statements; the players themselves or the coaches, specifically new coach Dallas Eakins. He's a rookie on the NHL bench this season but he didn't come up from the junior benches, he was part of the pro game as the coach of the AHL Toronto Marlies. Pointing to the way the team plays reflects on the bench boss as much as anybody else.

Perhaps it's why the Oilers are off to a 2-6-1 start this season and why Nail Yakupov was being hammered by a Russian Olympic scout last week for his lack of all-around play.

Question is: Is he right? The Oilers should give him an answer.

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