Capitals still need to improve on setting the tone early, Eller says

Chris Lingebach
January 15, 2020 - 4:02 pm
Lars Eller: Capitals must improve on setting the tone early

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Coming into Monday's game, a greatly needed 2-0 win over Carolina, the Capitals had allowed the opposition to score the first goal in eight of their last nine games, an ugly pattern of playing from behind that has plagued Washington for much of the season. It's a trend they'd be wise to snap, as they hopefully did with Monday's shutout victory.

After Saturday's deflating 5-1 loss to New Jersey – a cellar-dweller at the bottom of the Metro Division (41 points) – center Lars Eller says the Caps met the next morning to work through some issues, one of which was their penchant for getting in a hole early.

"Yes. That was something we've talked about," Eller told The Sports Junkies during his weekly appearance, driven by AAA.

"And I think it comes down to the attitude and the mentality you bring out from the beginning of the game," he said. "And I know I've said these words before, but I'm gonna say it again, that a lot of games we kind of wait to see what kind of game the other team is gonna bring.

"And then we're gonna match it or we're gonna bring whatever game we need just to get by to win and get two points out of it, instead of setting the tone right from the start of the game, which I'd like to see us a do a little more, because I know we can do that. So yes, it's definitely something we're aware of, I'll say."

Eller was asked if the Caps reached their emotional low point of the season after losing at home to the Devils.

"Yeah. I think if you look at the game, how we played it, I would probably say so," he said. "It was probably one of our emotional low points. We didn't play with the emotion we needed to to win games. And I'm just gonna say, even playing against teams that are at the bottom of the league standing-wise, you're gonna lose games. They beat Tampa (Sunday), so you can't take those points for granted. We paid for that the other night."

"Every team, every season, they go through some stretches where they're really not playing at their best," Eller said. "And hopefully, we had some meetings (Sunday) and we talked about things, and I think everybody feels bad about how that game played out. And I don't think we played particularly well in the last little while here, so I'd really like to see us turn this around and come out, finish out with a good feeling about ourselves before the break."

The Caps have just two games to go before going on a nine-day break for the All-Star Game. After finishing out at home against New Jersey on Thursday followed by a quick jaunt up to Long Island on Saturday, the Caps will have eight full days off to recharge, before resuming play in Montreal on Jan. 27.