It was a welcome sight for the Capitals Tuesday as defenseman Mike Green took part in an entire 45-minute practice with the rest of the team for the first time since before he suffered a strained right groin muscle on Nov. 11.

Green skating at Capitals Iceplex last week. (John McDonnell/THE WASHINGTON POST)

“I think I’m going to have to be cognizant of this for the rest of my career, probably,” Green said. “It’s something you’ve got to take care of, especially with hockey it’s such a common thing. It’s just maintenance right now, making sure I’m on top of my stuff and getting better. I don’t think I’ll be 100 percent for a long time, I’ve just got to get to that stage where I can play.”

There’s no doubt that the Capitals are anxious to get their puck-moving, power-play quarterback back into the lineup but given the severity of the groin strain that has caused Green to miss 20 consecutive games they’re trying to find a balance between getting Green back soon and making sure he’s as ready as possible when he does return.

“That’s a fine line with injuries. He’s such a key part of your team you don’t want to set him back again. We’ll make sure he’s ready,” Coach Dale Hunter said. “Most players want to play, you’ve got to watch it. [Head athletic trainer Greg Smith] will know when he’s ready to go.”

Green hasn’t played since he suffered the groin strain in the first period of Washington’s game in New Jersey back on Nov. 11. The team has listed his status as ‘day-to-day’ since he suffered the injury.

When the defenseman’s recovery plateaued in mid-December, the Capitals opted to try an alternate rehabilitation route and according to several people with knowledge of the situation Green received Accelerated Recovery Performance (ARP) treatment in Minnesota.

Now, Green says the next step is to keep working in normal practices to get himself back into game shape after such a long layoff. While it’s unclear how much time he will need to get his conditioning level back, being able to work out with his teammates already offered a mental boost.

“I’ve been training hard off the ice and doing everything I can to stay in shape but until you get back on the ice and you get skating, it’s hard to train for hockey,” Green said. “But I feel as good as I possibly could going back on the ice today. I just need a few skates to get my lungs and my legs back and I’ll be back in no time.

“I could not wait to get back out there and skate with the guys,” Green added. “It’s been tough watching hockey, not being a part of it and so for me to get back out there and be a part of this and smile a little bit -- I kind of got a smile on my face the whole time I was out there. It feels good. You don’t realize how much you miss it until you’re gone for awhile.”

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