Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green did not speak to reporters after Saturday’s 3-1, series-clinching victory over the New York Rangers, but Coach Bruce Boudreau described Green as “okay” after being struck on the helmet by a slap shot late in the first period.
“We could have played him,” Boudreau said. “But the longer it went, we just said, ‘Okay, let’s see if we can’t get by.’ He got a puck in the head, but he told me he’s fine after the game. So I’m going to live with that.”
When Green crumpled to the ice, his hands pressed against his visor after going down to block a slap shot and being struck in the face,
Verizon Center fell silent. No one needed to be reminded that Green had missed 26 of the final 28 games of the regular season because of two concussions, the first of which being caused by a puck to the head. Or just how much the smooth skating blueliner means to the Capitals after he notched his first postseason goal in 21 contests only 5:59 into the game.
After writhing on the ice momentarily, Green made his way to the dressing room. He returned to the bench during the second period, but did not play another shift in the game. The NBC broadcast highlighted pieces of his helmet coming dislodged, but according to a person who saw Green’s lid after the game, the small parts were Oakley logos on his visor.
“It just shows his character,” Boudreau said of Green throwing himself in front of Matt Gilroy point shot. “Three times already this year, two for sure, where he’s gotten hit in the head. And he’s still doing whatever he can to win a hockey game.
“That’s tremendous character,” Boudreau added. “I just wish he would get the magnets out of his helmet.”
Green’s teammates said the sight of Green blocking Gilroy’s shot and then returning to the bench served as an inspiration.
“When you’ve got a guy like that who’s had symptoms before and goes down to block a shot, you know he’s determined to win,” Jason Arnott said. “Hats off to him for doing that. Hopefully he comes back and is well. He seems to be alright. That just pumped us even more to see him go down and try keep a goal out.”
As for Arnott, who also missed shifts late in the second and third periods with an undisclosed ailment, the 36-year-old said he expects to be fine.
“I’m doing alright,” he said. “Then late in the third, I just figured I would rest a little bit more and let the young guys go out there and finish it off.”