Mike Green’s return to the blueline should provide a boost of energy to the Capitals as they look to extend their winning streak to four games tonight when they host the Calgary Flames.
While Washington is excited to have its top puck-moving defenseman back in the fold, don’t expect his time on ice to be too high. The Capitals’ roster tonight will feature seven defensemen, which will allow Coach Dale Hunter to better manage Green’s ice time and not rush him into a heavy workload.
“We’ve got a plan but we don’t want to overplay him, either,” Hunter said.
Green has missed all but eight games this season and hasn’t played since suffering a strained right groin muscle in the first period of Washington’s game in New Jersey on Nov. 11. While the two-time Norris Trophy finalist is typically among the team’s leaders in ice time each night, he doesn’t expect that to be the case against Calgary.
“I don’t think throwing me in for 25 minutes would be a great idea but if that’s the way it goes, that’s the way it goes,” Green said. “This will be a great day for me but very unsure of how it will go.”
Part of taking the return slowly for Green means keeping his game simple. Green might not jump up in the play as much in order to make things easier on himself as he adjusts not only to game action again but an entirely new system. Tuesday’s game will be the first time he’s skated in a game under the directon of Hunter and assistant coach Jim Johnson.
“I’ve gotta start somewhere,” Green said when asked about adjusting to the new style of play on the fly. “I’ve been going over game tape with the coaches, I had a couple practices now where I can try to mold into the way they play, but it’s going to be a learning experience for me. I hope nobody else expects me to be able to pick it up like that. If I do, that’s a bonus.”
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