Mike Green will take warmups Saturday morning to determine if he’s ready to return to the Capitals’ lineup in a matinee meeting with the New Jersey Devils after missing the past two games with a groin injury.
“It’s going to be his call but we’re going to talk it through,” Coach Adam Oates said. “He can’t be almost ready to go, he’s got to feel that he can go play and play 100 percent because I can’t have him go two shifts and then get hurt.”
Oates said that while the decision will ultimately be up to the 27-year-old defenseman, there will be a “meeting of the minds” to determine the best course of action with his recovery.
The Capitals have two days between Saturday’s tilt with the Devils and their next game, Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes, and it’s possible taking a few more days for Green to rest his injury would benefit the blue-liner. But groin injuries are notoriously difficult to predict.
“It’s tough with a groin injury because [in] two more days we could be having the same conversation,” Oates said. ”How long do they take? Sometimes you’ve got to get back in there and that’s why it’s a tough decision.”
Without Green in Thursday’s 3-2 loss to New Jersey the Capitals relied heavily on John Carlson, who skated a season-high 30 minutes 34 seconds. That’s a heavy workload for any player and a factor that Oates is weighing when determining how to best deploy Carlson in a game that starts 38 hours after the previous one ended.
“That’s a lot of minutes. We’ve actually already talked about it to see how he feels and how much jump he has, etcetera,” Oates said. “You hope the game’s going your way, that you can pull him back a little.”
Carlson acknowledged that he was “definitely worried” about making sure he cooled down properly after Thursday’s and used the practice day Friday to prepare without overtaxing himself. Ultimately though, if he’s called upon to carry significant ice time again today, Carlson says he will push forward.
“Just bury your head and play. There’s not much else you can do” Carlson said. “You want to play as much as you can, obviously. That’s everyone’s goal. But I didn’t even think about it really at all during the game. It’s just one of those things. Your number gets called and you go on the ice and that’s the way it works.”