Prior to the start of the Capitals’ game against the Maple Leafs Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre, General Manager George McPhee said that there’s a chance defenseman Mike Green could return to the lineup Wednesday against the Florida Panthers.
Regardless of whether Green appears in either Wednesday’s contest at Verizon Center or in Saturday’s regular-season finale at BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla., McPhee said he expects the two-time Norris Trophy finalist to be ready for the start of the postseason.
“We’ll discuss that tomorrow morning,” McPhee said, when asked if Green would play Wednesday. “We expect him to be ready for the playoffs and we just have to decide if we play him now, Saturday or both.”
The NHL’s concussion protocol stipulates that players must be symptom free at rest, symptom free with exertion and then must pass neuropsychological testing before being cleared for game action. Green has missed 18 games straight since he was hit in the head by the Rangers’ Derek Stepan and suffered a concussion on Feb. 25, and he’s missed 24 of 26 contests since he was hit in the head with a slap shot on Feb. 6.
When asked if Green had already passed the tests and was already cleared by medical personnel to play on Wednesday, McPhee replied, “Yes. If we want him to play tomorrow he would be able to play, but the longer we wait, the better off he’s going to be. So we’ll see. We’ll make a decision tomorrow.”
McPhee acknowledged an opponent could conceivably target Green’s head when he returns to the lineup, but reiterated that the defenseman will not see game time unless he is 100 percent ready.
“We’re not going to put him in there unless he’s completely healthy and symptom free and he has been for a while,” McPhee said. “But you can’t stop another team from hitting a guy in the head. Unfortunately, it happens in our business.”
McPhee also gave a brief update on Dennis Wideman, who suffered a leg hematoma and compartment syndrome after he was hit knee-to-thigh by Carolina’s Tuomo Ruutu on March 29.
“The muscle’s in really good shape, so it’s just a matter of things coming together and him feeling better,” McPhee said, adding that Wideman is expected to be discharged from the hospital later this week. “We’ll see how things go, but the good news is the muscle is in really good shape.”
--McPhee also spoke about the Capitals’ injured defensemen today on Toronto’s Fan 590. Click here to listen to the audio.