Although he played nearly nine minutes in the first period of the Capitals' 3-0 win over Carolina last night, Mike Green didn't look completely comfortable yet. In his first full game back after missing three contests with a shoulder injury, Green was passing up open opportunities to take slap shots from the blue line and seemed a little hesitant to use his body as leverage against opponents.
But as the game wore on, Green's confidence in his health rose, and even though the two-time Norris Trophy candidate didn't have his best game, the Capitals benefited from his ability to move the puck up ice and create plays.
"I think Mike definitely helps," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He can get the puck out of the zone, and that's where we've been having trouble. He gets it and he clears it. He had some breakdowns today, but it was his first game back so I think he was a little bit tentative. Having him back is a huge plus for us."
This wasn't the start Green wanted to the 2010-11 season, a setback from the beginning that forced him to essentially start the year over again. When one of the Hurricanes knocked him down awkwardly behind the net in the first period, though, Green got back up and was relieved to realize he felt fine.
"There are some times when you realize, 'Oh it's okay,' and you can play and push through," said Green, who started to throw out checks of his own. "I maybe got a little too aggressive at times and took some penalties. I'm definitely feeling good...I started throwing myself around just to make sure that it's okay, and it is. It's taken awhile to get back and now it's about mentally just playing my game."
He took two penalties, a roughing call after being hit in the corner and a tripping call drawn by Carolina captain Eric Staal that looked more like a shoulder-to-shoulder check, if anything. Late in the contest Green, who played more than 23 minutes against the Hurricanes, even wound up for one of his usual slap shots.
"Yeah, a full slap shot," Green said with a smile. "I'm basically, if not at 100 [percent healthy], very close."
FROM THE POST
Last night's game story.
Yet another D.C. sports crossover: John Wall at the Caps game. (Bog)
Is Jason Chimera the NHL's fastest skater? "He can fly," says teammate Mike Knuble. (Bog)
AROUND THE WEB
Corey Masisak's recap for CSN Washington.
Ted Leonsis isn't hearing from the "haters" after a 3-0 win. (Ted's Take)
Joe Corvo says his former team is "dangerous" and Alex Ovechkin is a "fun guy." (Alex Ovetjkin)