Tag Archives: Mike Green

George McPhee, Capitals Must Trade For Second Line Center This Summer

The second-line center position has been the proverbial white whale for the Washington Capitals since Sergei Fedorov left at the conclusion of the 2008-09 season. Since then, the Caps have seen Brendan Morrison, Eric Belanger, Tomas Fleischmann, Jason Arnott, Brooks Laich, Mathieu Perreault and Marcus Johansson try and ultimately fail to provide a long-term solution behind Nicklas Backstrom.

With the Caps holding two picks in the first round of the NHL Draft Friday, free agency looming July 1 and the hopeful long-term fix – Evgeny Kuznetsov – not available for at least two years, the aforementioned white whale has transformed into the elephant in the room: Washington will go another season without a second-line center if they do not trade for one.

Despite having the 11th and 16th overall selections in this weekend’s draft, it is unlikely that either of them will make an impact in Washington for at least two seasons. Meanwhile, the depth of unrestricted free agent centers this summer is incredibly shallow. Phoenix Coyotes center Daymond Langkow ($4.5 million salary cap hit last season) saw time at second-line center last season, but he was pushed down to the fourth line after the team acquired Antoine Vermette from the Columbus Blue Jackets; Los Angeles Kings center Jarret Stoll ($3.6 million) is a solid third-line center that can adequately fill in at 2C, but quite frankly, after winning the Stanley Cup this season, re-signing is the likeliest option.

Calgary Flames center Olli Jokinen ($3 million) is inconsistent at best and is certainly not the scorer that he used to be, while Buffalo Sabres center Jochen Hecht ($3.525 million) is recovering from a concussion. Coincidentally, it looks like Arnott may actually be the best available free agent option at center, which, after a injury-plagued season with the St. Louis Blues, is saying something.

Making a trade is necessary and it should be one that removes General Manager George McPhee from his comfort zone. There might not be a more thrifty general manager in the NHL than McPhee, who has the uncanny ability to turn nothing into something (after all, he acquired Fedorov for Theo Ruth). Yet, if McPhee wants to dramatically improve his club by finally filling a huge hole, he must make a big splash.

The most valuable pieces to do just that are both first-round draft picks and Mike Green’s negotiating rights. Trading away Green, a restricted free agent, might be a risky move because of what looks to be the inevitable departure of Dennis Wideman, but the Caps have puck-moving defensemen in John Carlson, already on the top pairing with Karl Alzner, and Dmitry Orlov, who could step into a larger role (not to mention that there is a shortage of quality unrestricted free agent offensive defensemen). Any combination of the draft picks and Green’s right could fetch the elusive second line center that has disconfigured Washington’s depth chart for three years.

When asked June 14 what he felt were the Caps’ biggest needs, McPhee did not budge, saying that “if I tell you that, then that’s all we’re gonna hear about for the next two months.” Perhaps McPhee had a point, but if he does not make an effort to rip the band-aid off the second-line center position and continues to look for the short-term fix, he is going to be hearing about it for a lot longer than that.

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From ‘Robot’ To Reboot: Mike Green On Road To Recovery

If Hasbro is looking to modernize its popular “Operation” board game, then look no further than Mike Green.

Wrenched ankle? Check. Bread basket? You know it. Brain freeze? Well, he did refer to himself as a “robot” earlier this season while lamenting the state of the mental aspect of his game.

All that is missing is the fauxhawk and full sleeve tattoos.

Analogies aside, Green suffered through his second-consecutive injury-plagued season in 2011-12, missing 50 regular season just one year after missing 33. Last season, it was a concussion that kept Green out of action, but this season, it was a litany of injuries ranging from a twisted right ankle (which he suffered after taking a puck to the face October 22) to a strained right groin muscle that ultimately led to abdominal surgery.

Missing all of that time plus adjusting to head coach Dale Hunter’s defensive system took some getting used to for the freewheeling Green, who did not play a game under Hunter until January 3. It was not a banner year for Green, who only scored twice after doing so in the Washington Capitals’ 7-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings October 22, but as the season wore on, he did make great strides in getting his game back to normal.

“Well, I didn’t play for the majority of it because of injuries, but I felt comfortable and I felt that I played strong when the time was right, as far as playoffs,” Green said Monday when asked how he would describe his season. “I was just starting to get my feel back again and unfortunately it’s come to an end at this point. I felt good, but I wish that I didn’t have to go through what I went through this year. I was really excited about this season, but I’m focused now mentally on next season.”

Unlike last season, where Green did not return from his injury layoff until the postseason, he had time to reacclimate himself with the game and adjust to Hunter’s style before the Caps entered the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Green may not have produced at the same level offensively that he and others had grown accustomed to several years ago, but he and Roman Hamrlik were solid defensively throughout Washington’s 14 playoff games, finishing at a combined plus-13.

His one goal, however, provided a glimpse of the past. With time running out in Game 4 against the Rangers May 5, Green wound up while on the power play and rifled a shot past Henrik Lundqvist to give the Caps a 3-2 lead, a score that held up as the final score, tying the series at 2-2.

“Before he was injured a lot, we used to see that all the time,” Nicklas Backstrom said after the game. “It’s great for him and it’s great to see him score a goal. It gives him confidence.”

That confidence is exactly what Green, a restricted free agent this summer, needs to return to his Norris Trophy form of years past and according to him, he is on his way to doing just that.

“I feel mentally as far as the game, the best I’ve ever felt, and physically the same,” he said. “I mean, you get your bumps and bruises, but I feel great. I feel like I did four or five years ago on the ice and that’s comforting.”

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Capitals Rue Missed Opportunities In Game 5

The Washington Capitals’ 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Rangers in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series Monday was heartbreaking as well as gut and gonad-kicking, but it did not have to be that way.

Up 2-1 less than five minutes into the third period thanks to a John Carlson power play goal, the Caps had several opportunities to pad their lead and avoid the impending collapse, but failed to convert on several quality scoring chances. Most notably, Nicklas Backstrom hit the crossbar on a breakaway after fooling Henrik Lundqvist with a forehand-backhand deke.

“I should have scored,” Backstrom said Tuesday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “It would have been a different game.”

Yet, at least Backstrom had an opportunity. The Caps had at least two odd-man rushes in the final 10 minutes of regulation while still clinging to a one-goal lead, but could not muster a shot on goal on either.

With just over seven minutes remaining, Alexander Semin and Alex Ovechkin had a 2-on-1 odd-man rush against Dan Girardi. Semin, for the second time Monday (he elected to pass instead of shoot on a 3-on-2 with Backstrom and Jason Chimera midway through the first period), attempted to pass to Ovechkin, but Girardi got just enough of his stick blade on the puck to break up the chance.

Later in the period, Ovechkin, Brooks Laich and Marcus Johansson had a 3-on-1 of their own, but Laich’s pass attempt was broken up by a Marc Staal poke check, once again leaving the Caps without a shot on a prime chance.

“We should’ve executed better,” Johansson said. “Nicky’s is just bad luck. It hits the crossbar. But we had a couple two-on-ones and three-on-ones where we should’ve scored and we didn’t even get a shot on net. That’s not good enough. We have enough skill and good hockey players to do something better with that. That’s something we have to get better at.”

But how? Head coach Dale Hunter offered a simple solution.

“We were passing too much,” he said. “Sometimes, we should think shot and go for rebounds.”

What could have been in Game 5 is now a moot point, but what can and must be changed in a pivotal Game 6 Wednesday is taking advantage of the rare defensive breakdowns in what has been a tight series. The Caps know they need to get more shots on goal in those situations. Otherwise, the only shooting they will be doing is shooting themselves in the foot.

“Three-on-one, you should be able to get a shot at least,” Mike Green said. “[New York’s defense] made great plays, but we’ve got to do better.”

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Capitals’ Secondary Scoring Goes Missing Again During Pivotal Stretch

Over the last two weeks, Alex Ovechkin has buoyed the Washington Capitals with a goal-scoring stretch that has been described as vintage, classic or any other available synonym that describes nostalgia.

Yet, while Ovechkin’s current streak of nine goals in eight games has mesmerized the masses, it has also served to mask the complete lack of secondary scoring that the Caps have received lately. Ovechkin’s nine goals in eight games have added up to about 40 percent of Washington’s total goals in that span (9/22). In a smaller sample, only four players have scored goals in the last four games: Ovechkin, Jason Chimera (who is the Caps’ second-most active goal scorer lately with three goals in five games), Mathieu Perreault and Alexander Semin. No defenseman has scored since March 13.

A look at the missing offense from complementary players is more shocking and troubling when the numbers are presented:

  • Troy Brouwer: three goals in his last 28 games; none since March 6.
  • Marcus Johansson: three goals in his last 26 games; none since March 8.
  • Dennis Wideman: no goals in his last 26 games: one goal since returning from first All-Star Game January 31.
  • John Carlson: two goals in his last 23 games: none since February 22.
  • Mike Green: no goals, one assist in 17 games since returning from injury February 18.
  • Brooks Laich: four goals in his last 17 games; none in his last six games since scoring three in his previous four.
  • Mike Knuble: three goals in his last 10 games; none in his last four games since scoring three in his previous four.

That, however, does not mean that these players have not had their chances. The aforementioned players accounted for 23 of Washington’s 45 shots during Tuesday’s 5-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, but as has become almost routine lately, none of them could capitalize.

Coincidentally, this is not the first time this season that the Caps’ most important role players have gone missing at the same time that Ovechkin has heated up. If the whole is only as good as the sum of its parts, then the Caps are currently incomplete.

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Playoff-Like Game Brings Back Nightmares Of Capitals’ Playoff Failures

The atmosphere was charged, the game intense. The palpable energy emanating from Friday’s game between the Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets could be felt from the seats at MTS Centre to television sets in Washington some thousand miles away.

It was an intense battle for 60 minutes, one that the Jets won by a 3-2 count, but the Caps and their fans could find solace in what looked like a complete effort that fell painfully short. After the final horn sounded, however, Comcast SportsNet color commentator Craig Laughlin made a short, but disconcerting comment that seemed to truly bring the game into proper perspective.

“Felt like a playoff game,” he said.

While Laughlin was certainly describing the ferocity of the game, he unintentionally uncovered something far more agonizing: the Caps, as recent history has dictated, could not come through in a playoff-like situation.

The Caps are surely used to complete efforts that fall painfully short in the postseason, but everything that has gone wrong in the past and could go wrong Friday did. Most notably, Washington’s superstars failed to deliver. Alexander Semin was practically invisible with just two shots on goal, while Mike Green did not even register a shot on goal in between two giveaways and a minus-2 rating. Meanwhile, Alex Ovechkin’s freelancing in the defensive zone cost the Caps in the second period. By the end of the game, Ovechkin was attempting to do everything himself, which historically is a clear sign of desperation.

Entering Friday, three of Washington’s last five victories had come in comeback fashion. Yet, by failing to do so Friday, the Caps, just like they did against the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009 and Montreal Canadiens in 2010, have provided their opponents new life. A win would have given the Caps a six-point cushion and perhaps a fatal blow to the Jets’ playoff chances. Instead, Winnipeg is two points behind Washington and potentially more confident than ever before.

Fortunately for the Caps, the difference between a playoff-like game and a playoff game is the fact that they have 11 guaranteed games left to play. Despite losing arguably the most important game of a five-game road trip, the Caps have the opportunity to rebound and regroup so that when the postseason does arrive, they are richer for the experience.

That is, if they make it that far.

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Capitals Must Be ‘Cognizant’ Of Mike Green’s Injury Problems This Summer

By Adam Vingan

One week before Mike Green returned to the Washington Capitals’ lineup after missing 23 consecutive games with a strained right groin muscle, he admitted that it could be the type of injury that could follow him for the rest of his career.

“I think I’m going to have to be cognizant of this for the rest of my career, probably,” Green said December 27. “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.”

After what looks like another setback Saturday, the Caps should also be cognizant of Green not being 100 percent for a long time and consider that when ultimately negotiating with him this summer.

Green, whose four-year, $21 million contract expires at season’s end, did not play in the third period of Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks. Head coach Dale Hunter said after the game that Green’s groin tightened up on him and that he left the game as a precautionary measure. Green skated all of 7:11 Saturday, Couple that with his 15:43 in his return Tuesday in Washington’s 3-1 win over the Calgary Flames – where he admitted after the game that he felt “not that great” – and Green played 22:54 before hurting himself again.

On the bright side, Green’s recent two-game return from injury was longer than his previous ones. The problems for Green began last February 6 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, when he took the brunt of Brooks Orpik’s slap shot to the right side of his head. He missed the Caps’ subsequent game before returning February 12 against the Los Angeles Kings, playing 22:03. Green, however, experienced concussion-like symptoms after the game and missed the next five. In his second return from injury last season, Green lasted two shifts before receiving a strong hit from the New York Rangers’ Derek Stepan along the boards February 26. He did not return for the rest of the regular season.

This season featured more of the same. Green once again took a puck to the face October 22 against the Detroit Red Wings, but it was his right ankle that flared up on him as he was falling to the ice. Six games later, Green returned November 11 against the New Jersey Devils and strained his groin after an awkward collision with Ryan Carter after just eight shifts. Since the start of the 2010-11 season, Green has played in a total (regular season and postseason) of 57 games. Meanwhile, Sidney Crosby, who was and continues to be plagued with a concussion and its symptoms, has played in 49.

While head injuries are obviously more serious, groin injuries can hamper a hockey player; they affect a player’s stride and prevent the affected player from making full, hard stops. Of course, one can’t mention groins around the Caps without thinking of Tom Poti.

Poti has been plagued by a nagging groin since signing with Washington prior to the 2007-08 season, but it became a major issue for him last season. Poti made it through only two games before his groin began to bother him. He later returned for back-to-back games against the Boston Bruins October 19-21 after sitting out the previous three. That return, however, did not last long as he missed the next eight games. A one-game return November 11 (there’s that date again) led to another layoff, this one totaling six games.

Poti then played in 13 of the next 15 before a concussion sidelined him again. Finally, after his groin continued to flare up on him after what seemed like dozens of returns, Poti did not play again after January 12, finishing the season with only 21 games. Sound vaguely familar?

During the offseason, Poti was adamant that he would be ready for training camp, but that did not happen. The team placed Poti, still under contract through the end of next season, on long-term injured reserve, which wiped out his $2.875 million salary cap hit.

Poti’s status – or lack thereof – is something that Washington should keep in mind when considering negotiating with Green. Green is a restricted free agent making over $1 million per season, meaning that if the Caps are interested in retaining him, then they must make him a qualifying offer of at least 100 percent of his salary, or his current rate of $5 million per year.

With that said, Washington has eight impending free agents this summer, including John Carlson, Mike Knuble, Dennis Wideman and Tomas Vokoun. Green’s $5.250 million cap hit needs to be used elsewhere. Re-signing Carlson, a restricted free agent that is still on his entry-level contract, is definitely one of the Caps’ top priorities this summer. If Vokoun has a solid season, he is due for a hefty raise from his current $1.5 million. Wideman could be a long-term solution as Washington’s veteran defensive presence. There is also Dmitry Orlov, who could develop into a defenseman similar to Green with possibly more defensive and physical upside.

Green will not vanish like Poti apparently has if Washington decides not to tender a qualifying offer; he is a 26-year-old two-time Norris Trophy finalist and one of the league’s most dynamic offensive defensemen. That is, when he’s healthy, which has been rare lately. Another option – albeit an unlikely one – would be to offer Green the minimum in hopes that he will reject it and another team will tender an offer sheet. If Green signs that offer sheet and the Caps choose to decline, they will receive draft pick compensation and can find another young defenseman to mold.

Green might never fully be the same smooth-skating defenseman that earned the aforementioned accolades again, and when even Green himself recognizes that, perhaps it is time for another team to take a chance.

It has been obvious this season that the Caps’ defensive corps struggles without Green, but the Caps would be making the same mistake twice if they sign an injury-prone defensemen to a multi-year contract. Washington does not need two defensemen worth several million dollars sitting out the majority of the season.

Or three if you consider Jeff Schultz.

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Mike Green’s Return From Injury Forgettable, But Forward Progress Made

Mike Green’s return from injury was nothing special, but it was a step in the right direction for a player who has struggled with injuries.

Adam’s latest feature for SB Nation D.C.

Mike Green had the right to be tentative. His first games back from injury recently have not gone well.

After the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Brooks Orpik struck Green with a slap shot to the right side of the head last February 6, Green missed one game before making a return against the Los Angeles Kings on February 12. Green, however, experienced concussion symptoms after the game and did not play in the next five.

Green only took two shifts in his second return February 26 against the New York Rangers before being hit by Derek Stepan and leaving the game. He did not play another game in the regular season.

This season, Green twisted his right ankle during the first period of Washington’s 7-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on October 22, causing him to miss six games. Once that six-game layoff ended on November 11 against the New Jersey Devils, Green made it eight shifts before an awkward hit from Ryan Carter left him with a strained right groin muscle, which cost him 23 games.

On Tuesday, Green made it through the Caps’ 3-1 win over the Calgary Flames relatively unscathed, but that was no consolation to him.

Finish the story at SB Nation D.C.

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