Caps' Green sits out practice with concussion symptoms, defenseman unlikely to play against Sharks

By Katie Carrera
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 8, 2011; 1:11 AM

The Washington Capitals held Mike Green out of practice for precautionary reasons Monday, a day after the defenseman was struck in the head by a puck against Pittsburgh, and it is likely he will miss Tuesday's contest with the San Jose Sharks.

Green was hit near his right ear and temple by a slap shot in the first period of Washington's 3-0 win over the Penguins on Sunday. He needed help to get to the bench after the impact that sent him to the ice bleeding from a gash that required several rows of stitches. After the contest Green spoke to reporters and cited wooziness and a headache, symptoms consistent with a concussion.

Protocol for the treatment of concussions in the NHL is that a player must first be symptom free while at rest and symptom free during exercise and other physical exertion. Then a player must undergo neuropsychological testing, and if the results of the evaluation determine there are no abnormalities, the player becomes eligible to return.

Given that the Capitals have three consecutive days off following their contest against the Sharks on Tuesday at Verizon Center, there is little reason to rush Green back. Also, when players do not practice the day before a game, they generally will not take part in the upcoming contest.

"He's not 100 percent; we thought another day off would do him good," Coach Bruce Boudreau said.

"You're always concerned because Mike Green is one of the best defensemen in the league, so you're concerned about that. You just hope that's not the case and we'll wait till [Tuesday] morning and hopefully he feels better."

Concussions have been an increasingly hot-button topic in numerous professional sports leagues in recent years as knowledge and understanding of the injuries progresses in the medical community. Debate about how to best protect players in the NHL heated up again this winter as Penguins captain and face of the league Sidney Crosby suffered a concussion in early January that has caused him to miss 13 games.

Crosby was unable to attend the all-star game and is not expected to resume normal workouts for another 10 days, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Last month at the NHL's all-star weekend in Raleigh, N.C., Commissioner Gary Bettman said preliminary data from a study conducted by the league and players' union showed an increase in concussions for the 2010-11 season. The uptick, Bettman said, was found largely in injuries stemming from accidental or inadvertent contact, whether with another player, the puck, glass, boards or ice.

Johansson looks good

Throughout the season there have been shifts and games in which Marcus Johansson looks confident and at ease on the ice, but as is the case with any rookie adjusting to North America, he struggles with consistency. Washington's victory against Pittsburgh on Sunday was an instance of the former, as Johansson scored a short-handed goal and finished with a plus-2 rating.

"I've informed him a few times of how important consistency is for an NHL player, but he's 20 years old. Sometimes you're going to get it and sometimes you're not," Boudreau said. "Hopefully he's responsible enough and consistent enough that he can have those games on a day-to-day basis."

Johansson has 13 points, including seven goals, in 41 games with the Capitals this season. That total of games played is just four shy of the most he ever played in one campaign in the Swedish Elite League - 45 in 2008-09 - and learning how to prepare for the sheer volume and rapid scheduling of contests in the NHL is what Johansson calls his biggest challenge.

"It's a lot of things, but I haven't played this many games, I think, in a season and it's different," Johansson said. "It's fun and I want to play as much as possible. It will just come with time how to play when you're not having a good day without being too bad so you can keep it on [an even] level. That's a thing I've got to learn."

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