Mike Green said he’s ready to play and plans to face the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, but Coach Adam Oates was unsure whether the 27-year-old defenseman would be in the lineup.
“Obviously we need Mike. We’ve got to make sure he is ready. I know he wants to play,” Oates said. “I know he wants to play, but we’ve gone down this path before. He was ready to play last time and it lasted two days.”
Green has missed 10 straight games and 13 of the last 15 with a nagging groin injury but has been skating with the team consistently for the past week. Despite his regular and sometimes lengthy appearances on the ice, though, Green is still walking with a noticeable limp.
The Calgary native said he wasn’t pushing himself to return too quickly.
“No. This is taking the safe route,” Green said after roughly an hour-long practice in Pittsburgh Wednesday. “At some point you’ve got to make a decision, and tomorrow I’m ready.”
Still, Oates is concerned about Green’s long-term health. Dating back to the start of the 2009-10 season, Green has missed 93 of the Capitals’ last 193 regular season games because of injury.
This groin injury initially occurred on Feb. 14 at Tampa Bay and caused Green to miss three games. He deemed himself 100 percent healthy but only returned for two games before he aggravated the injury on Feb. 27 at Philadelphia.
It’s been a frustrating stretch for Green, who believed this trying stretch of injuries was behind him when he began this shortened season.
“It’s awful. The worst thing is sitting and watching. And then for myself, just being frustrated with the last little while how things have gone with myself and the injuries,” Green said. “I just wish that I could put together a full season here and stay healthy, but it’s been tough. When you go through a stretch of injuries, it seems like it snowballs a little bit, and hopefully it’s all over.”
Green wants to be able to come back and help the Capitals fight for a sixth consecutive postseason berth and while Oates understands that, he also doesn’t want to make a rash decision that does more harm than good.
“We appreciate that,” Oates said. “But it still doesn’t change the fact that we’ve got to have a bigger outlook on things.”