The last time Mike Green scored a goal was when the price of gas was well under $4.00 and Bruce Boudreau was still employed by the Washington Capitals. That goal came on October 22, the seventh game of the Capitals season and the team was off to the best start in franchise history, 7-0-0.
A lot has changed for the Capitals and Green since that goal. Green missed 50 of the next 53 games with foot and groin injuries, and was rehabbing when Dale Hunter took over for Bruce Boudreau.
When Green returned from abdominal surgery in mid-February, he had to adjust to a new way of skating and style of play. Long gone were the coast-to-coast rushes that had become his trademark in the NHL. In their place were sound, smart decisions with the puck.
“There’s not that pressure that you have to score and that’s the bottom line. Playing in position and playing solid, Dale reinforces that.” – Mike Green
In some form of a miracle, the Capitals made the playoffs with Green recording just one assist in the final 22 games of the season. Somehow, the Capitals have kept their current playoff series with the Boston Bruins even without a single point from Green as well.
After playing 21:01 minutes and blocking two shots in the Capitals’ 1-0 overtime loss in Game 1, Green logged a team-high 33:28 minutes, was plus-2, had four shots and blocked an additional three shots in Saturday’s 2-1 double overtime win in Game 2.
Despite his lack of offensive production, Green says this is the best he has felt, both mentally and physically, in the past two years. Green said he no longer judges himself on how many points he scores, but more on the way he plays against some of the NHL’s top forwards.
The Capitals have blocked 49 shots in just the first two games of the playoffs against the Bruins, including a huge block by Alexander Semin on a Zdeno Chara slapshot. Green went on to say that Semin got a lot of pats on the back in the locker room after that and that it definitely shows everyone is buying in to the defense first mindset.
Although the Capitals are only two games into the playoffs, Green says he sees a commitment level that is much higher in this year’s team than what has been seen in the previous teams that failed to make a long playoff run.
The Capitals next game is tonight at 7:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Network. It is Game 3 and both teams will be looking to take a 2-1 advantage in this best-of-7 series.
Follow Matthew on twitter @Geiser19.