For Caps’ Green, there’s a simple answer to breaking out of slump


Capitals defenseman Mike Green has just two goals in 30 games played this year. (Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

Mistakes are magnified for a player with as much responsibility as Mike Green.

And the Capitals defenseman has had it rough the past three games, beginning with his career-high 18 penalty minutes in the first period against Tampa Bay on Dec. 10 that allowed the Lightning to take an early 2-0 lead. In games against the Florida Panthers and the Philadelphia Flyers this past weekend, Green’s turnovers in the defensive zone led directly to two more goals against.

To the coaching staff, however, Green’s issues are correctable.

“The really great players and great people, they overcome that stuff,” assistant coach Calle Johansson said. “It’s easy to dwell on it, but that’s what we’re here for: to help him get over it. And he has to get over it. I think he’ll be fine.”

It may come down to Green simplifying his game, coach Adam Oates says. That might not be as easy as it sounds, Oates admits, considering Green’s game-breaking ability.

“Sometimes, the simple play is right there, and a guy who’s regarded as [an] offensive weapon maybe looks for something better,” Oates said. “It’s our job as coaches to remind him that [the simple] play is actually the one we want.

“I think what happens is if he tries to do something too spectacular, if it doesn’t work out, he’s out of position. If you do the simple play, if it doesn’t work, you’re in a better position to recover.”

Green recognizes that playing a more straightforward game predicated on making easy plays will ultimately lead to both individual and teamwide success.

“The game’s played a simple way,” Green said. “When it’s properly executed simply, it usually works in your favor.”

Adam Vingan is an NHL.com Washington correspondent, the Capitals beat reporter for Express, and writes Capital Games for NBC Washington.

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Rick Snider · December 16, 2013