Capitals defenseman Mike Green has missed 18 of the past 20 games since he was hit in the head by a puck on Feb. 6 against Pittsburgh, and he hasn’t taken part in a full practice with his teammates (with or without contact) since he suffered another concussion when the Rangers’ Derek Stepan hit him in the head on Feb. 25.
The good news, Coach Bruce Boudreau said Thursday, is that Green says he is feeling better. That doesn’t mean the two-time Norris Trophy finalist is ready to play quite yet, and there is still no firm timetable for when he will return to the lineup.
With only eight games remaining in the regular season, Boudreau said the chance of Green returning prior to the playoffs is uncertain.
“In a perfect world, we’d like to get him back for the last couple [regular season] games,” Boudreau said. “I think this week will indicate this -- by Monday, we’ll know whether we’ll be able to or not.
“We want him in at least three practices, good practices, before we ever put him in a game -- minimum,” Boudreau said. “Quite frankly, I play him when [head athletic trainer] Greg Smith says he’s OK to play. I’ll be the first one to put him in.”
NHL concussion protocol stipulates that players must be symptom free at rest, symptom free with exertion (such as exercise), and then must pass neuropsychological testing before they will be able to return to game action.
Green has been taking part in off-ice workouts this week and he skated while the team was on the road last week, but it is a gradual process and Boudreau emphasized that the Capitals want to make sure that Green is completely healthy before putting him back into a game.
“We’re not going to say, ‘Oh, he’s feeling good, let’s put him in,’” Boudreau said. “I told him again today, I said, ‘Mike, we just want you to get better. I want you to play but I want you to get better.’ He was saying how good he felt and I said that’s a fabulous sign.”