Eller credits Caps' road prowess to respect for the game

Chris Lingebach
December 11, 2019 - 7:53 pm

Even the best team in the NHL is capable of a bad performance every once in awhile, as the Capitals turned in during their return home Monday night.

After going scorched earth on the west coast, where they took three straight in San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim, respectively, the Caps served up a dud against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Capital One Arena, trailing by as many as four goals in the 5-2 loss.

"I think it was just a collectively bad game, one of those you want to forget about and move on from quickly, kind of like the Colorado game," Lars Eller told The Sports Junkies during his weekly appearance, driven by AAA. The Avalanche crushed the Caps 6-3 in D.C. back in October. "The score, it could have been 3- or 4-nothing as well last game, like the Colorado game, where we just weren't there. We were playing poorly with the puck. We were playing poorly without the puck."

"Those games tend to happen once in a while," he said. "When it's ugly, it gets very ugly. That's not the team you're gonna see on most nights, so we're gonna move on from that quickly."

About that west coast swing, it was just the second time in team history the Caps swept the state of California.

"It was (a pretty fun plane ride back)," Eller said. "I've never tried that in my career, even with my previous teams, winning all three games out there. There was a time not long ago where you went on that trip and you could get one win, that was a decent outcome. It used to be three powerhouses out there that all had a chance to win every year, three really strong teams. So to get out of there with three wins, we're very happy with that obviously."

If it seems like the Caps keep coming home victorious, it's not because they're a good road team; they're the best (14-2-1). What's been the difference in their road play this season?

"If I had to point to something, that's just my opinion, on the road I think we respect the game a little bit more," Eller said. "We don't take as many chances, we have a little more attention to detail and play with a little less risk without the puck. And obviously we've been getting great goaltending throughout the whole trip. That means a lot as well. I think that's what I would point to."

Capitals defenseman John Carlson continues his league-leading offensive efforts, far and away the league's top defenseman in the offensive zone (as well as being a top-flight defender).

"Right now you just want to find him in the offensive zone," Eller said. "It's probably gonna end up in the back of the net somehow one or two passes later, because he's not gonna put it in himself. He's just making really good decisions all the time, and every time he shoots, it seems to go in. That's why we're just getting used to seeing that kind of play from him this season. He's been huge for us."

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