Capitals Defenseman Mike Green Continues to Make His Points on Offense
Monday, January 19, 2009
The power play developed the way so many do for Mike Green. With his Washington Capitals teammates drawing the attention of each Boston penalty killer, Green skated unnoticed to an empty spot of ice on the opposite side of the net.
Only when a crisp pass hit Green's stick did the defenders turn toward him -- just in time to see Green rifle a shot past Boston goaltender Tim Thomas for the Capitals' first goal in their 2-1 win over the Bruins on Saturday at Verizon Center.
Green leads both the Capitals and all NHL defensemen with his 10 power-play goals, but with Washington's plethora of potent scorers he's still often unaccounted for by opposing teams.
"I don't mind it though," Green said. "A lot of times players get drawn to Alex [Ovechkin] or any of the other guys so it makes it easy for me to sneak back door. We have an extra guy out there so somebody's got to be open and for some reason it's always me. Sometimes I don't think teams expect it from a defensemen."
After leading all Washington defensemen with 18 goals and 56 points in 82 games last season, Green's amassed 12 goals and 32 points in just 33 games this year after missing 13 contests with a shoulder injury.
"He's getting better and he might be the best offensive defensemen in the league," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I think he'd certainly would be leading the league in points [for defensemen] if he was healthy for all the games."
Opponents are beginning to keep a closer eye on Green. Washington's Southeast Division foes, whom the Capitals face six times per season, have adjusted to prevent him from sneaking into a play and have allowed him to score just three power-play goals.
Green feeds off his ability to jump into an offensive rush, whether on the power play or at even strength. His frustration is visible when he's not able to contribute, or when he makes a mistake like when he failed to corral the puck on the Capitals' first power play against the Bruins.
"It was bothering me. I missed the puck twice," Green said. "I wasn't in position once and the second time I was standing there but it went through my stick. Kind of blew the power play because . . . we didn't get set up after that."
Green's desire to join the attack and help contribute offensively is what regularly leads Boudreau to remind his No. 1 defenseman to settle down and remember he's a defenseman.
"I shake my fist at him like I'm his father," Boudreau said. "He gets caught up in the game. He's a passionate player . . . when he sees us losing especially he wants to do it all. Lead the rush, score the goal. He's not doing it in a selfish manner just what it takes to get back to winning."
Notes: Defensemen Tom Poti (groin) and Shaone Morrisonn (lower body) aren't expected to return to the lineup until after the all-star break and neither made the trip to New York with the team for today's 2 p.m. game against the Islanders. . . . Boudreau said it's likely Boyd Gordon (back spasms) will return to the lineup today after missing four games. . . . Goaltender José Theodore is expected to get his third straight start.