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Posted at 01:15 PM ET, 12/29/2011

Mike Green eyeing return to Capitals’ lineup next week

On Thursday, Mike Green skated for a third consecutive day with his Capitals’ teammates and with each successive day of practice the defenseman is inching closer to a return from a strained right groin muscle.

Mike Green , right, skates at practice on Dec. 21. (John McDonnell - THE WASHINGTON POST)
Both Green and Coach Dale Hunter stressed caution when asked about defining a date for the two-time Norris Trophy finalist’s return to the lineup but it’s possible he could be back in the mix as early as next week.

“I’ll skate tomorrow again, see how I feel,” Green said. “You never know. Maybe I could play [this weekend]. But it looks like next week.

“I think we want to play this safe,” Green said. “Obviously been out for a long time and I want to get back, but I want to make sure I’m ready to play. No need to put myself in a dangerous situation if I’m not ready.”

Green has missed 21 games with the strained right groin muscle that he suffered back on Nov. 11 at New Jersey. It’s been a slow recovery for the 26-year-old Calgary native, and that’s part of the reason why Green and the Capitals want to make sure they don’t rush him back.

“He must be feeling pretty good,” Hunter said. “But it’s still a medical decision. Players always want to play, we’ve got to make the right decision for his injury.”

During an interview with John Feinstein on 106.7 The Fan this afternoon, General Manager George McPhee expressed the same sentiments that Green did and said that while the defenseman likely won’t return this weekend he could be back in the lineup “later next week.”

More from Post Sports:
--Mike Green skates with Caps for first time since suffering groin injury.
--Mike Green’s absence the new normal for Caps.

By  |  01:15 PM ET, 12/29/2011

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