Green and Morrisonn Are Taking Off Together

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mike Green has become a highlight reel star in recent months. But overlooked amid the hype surrounding the Washington Capitals defenseman's scintillating end-to-end rushes is the reason he's able to do what he does.

That would be Shaone Morrisonn, Green's reliable, stay-at-home defensive partner, who covers for him when he takes off in search of goal-scoring glory.

"In any sport, offensive players make the splash, but defensive players are sought after," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Mike Green gets a lot of attention. But Shaone Morrisonn deserves a lot of the credit for allowing Mike Green to do what he's doing. Shaone is the constant security blanket back there."

Since Boudreau put the pair together on Nov. 22, the day he took over behind Washington's bench, Green and Morrisonn have blossomed.

Green has scored nine of his league-leading 12 goals (for defensemen) and Morrisonn has posted a team-best plus-minus rating of plus-13 as the Capitals have gone 12-7-4 during that span.

"Shaone plays so well defensively, and he's always in position, so that makes it easy for me to jump up into the play," Green said.

Under Boudreau, Green and Morrisonn have also spent most nights matched against their opponent's top line, which will be the case again tonight, when the Eastern Conference-leading Ottawa Senators visit Verizon Center.

The Capitals will try to complete their first season sweep of Ottawa since 1995-96. The Senators will be without all-star winger Dany Heatley (separated shoulder) and possibly center Jason Spezza, who left Sunday's 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders after absorbing a hard hit.

In a home-and-home series against Ottawa two weeks ago, Green, 22, racked up a combined two goals and three assists and Morrisonn, 25, was a plus-4.

In the Capitals' 6-3 win on New Year's Day, Green burst between Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson and defenseman Andrej Meszaros and flipped the puck underneath the crossbar for his first goal to chase goalie Martin Gerber. Morrisonn, as always, had Green's back.

"Even late in the game when we need a goal, I feel comfortable going," Green said.

Morrisonn, a 6-foot-4, 212-pound native of Vancouver, B.C., spent October and most of November paired with Milan Jurcina, another defenseman of the same ilk, and registered a rating of a minus-10. Boudreau's first major decision after replacing Glen Hanlon, though, was to shake up the blue line.

"To me, it seemed that if you're going give a little more freedom to one guy that you should have a defensive guy with him," Boudreau said, "so you don't end up with five guys up the ice."

Morrisonn, who has not scored a goal but has blocked 44 shots and anchors the penalty kill, attributes his turnaround to skating alongside Green and Boudreau's more aggressive forechecking system.

"It's a little bit of everything," Morrisonn said. "I love Bruce's system. It's a great system, and when we're playing it correctly, we're not in our own end all night."

Capitals Notes: Right wing Chris Clark (strained groin muscle) is questionable for tonight's game. Defenseman Brian Pothier (concussion) will miss his fourth consecutive game.

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