Mike Green leaned into a one-timer from the top of the left faceoff circle to the point that his right knee was grazing the ice as he fired a shot that blazed past Ty Conklin 14 minutes into Washington’s 7-1 rout of the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night. It was a goal that looked like vintage Green from 2008-09 and 2009-10 when he was leading the league in points for defensemen.
Green would add another power-play tally in the second period along with a pair of assists to tie his career high for points in a game with four. The last time he scored four points in a contest was Dec. 5, 2009.
“I thought it was Mike Green’s best game, maybe in a year,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said.
It was also one of the best showings for the Capitals’ power play in recent memory as they maintained constant movement accompanied by crisp passing displays. They only took two shots on the man-advantage though, both by Green and both goals.
The power play “looks good because the pucks are going in the net,” Green said. “I think what we’ve done is move the puck quick and we get them running around and it creates openings and creates chances. In the past we’ve stood around with the puck waiting for other guys to get open and that doesn’t work.”
In addition to the offensive contributions, at least 12 of Green’s shifts overlapped with Detroit’s top line of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Danny Cleary and he helped hold them to only two points and a collective minus-3. It was a sound all-around outing for Green, with the exception of a shift early in the first period, when he didn’t pursue Datsyuk coming out of the corner as the center headed to the net for a prime scoring chance, but the shot went off Cleary’s skate in front.
The benefits of a healthy Green are important for the Capitals. They have back one of their offensive finishers, someone who can move the puck out of the zone and help the rush head up ice, all while developing his defensive play. Even with the defensive depth that Washington has boasted through these first seven games, Green leads in total time on ice (159 minutes 16 seconds) and average per game (22:45)
“He came into camp …he was so focused,” Boudreau said. “The last few games he’s had great chances, great chances and they haven’t materialized but it’s just waiting for something to explode or break out. Tonight it broke out for him. It was really good; really happy to see it for him.”
There was a scary moment for the 26-year-old Calgary native with 2:57 remaining in the first period, however.
Green, who missed significant time during the 2010-11 campaign with concussions, was hit on the chin with the puck when Detroit’s Darren Helm tried to dump in. Green immediately went to the dressing room and received stitches for the cut on the left side of his jaw but returned for the second period and finished the game. By game’s end he had skated a team-high 22:09.
“He got his face in the way of another one,” Boudreau said, “but it was only his jaw, so it was okay.”
If you haven’t seen them, or just want to watch the clips again here are Green’s goals from Saturday night:
And the second.