The Washington Capitals have been mighty impressive thus far in these Stanley Cup Playoffs, jumping out to an early 2-0 series lead over the New York Rangers. They’ve looked decent on offense, but have particularly looked good defensively, limiting a potent offensive team like New York to just one goal in two games.
One reason for that is the play of Mike Green. It wasn’t too long ago that Green was considered an elite defenseman. But a combination of injuries and poor play have made him something of a forgotten man. That definitely is not the case anymore.
Green hasn’t played in more than 70 games since the 2009-10 season. We knew that he could put goals in from the blue line with the best of them. He potted totals of 18, 31, and 19 consecutively from 2007 to 2010. Injuries derailed that production over the past couple of seasons.
The Capitals handed Green a pretty lucrative contract last summer, much to the surprise of many. That deal will carry a cap hit over $6 million for the next two years after this season. With his injury problems, it’s no wonder so many questioned the deal.
But Green has definitely backed up the play of that new deal this season. It wasn’t a season without injury issues. He only played in 35 games this year, mostly due to being limited by a groin injury. But his production, or lack of, hasn’t been the problem that it has in previous years.
In those 35 games this season, Green finished with 26 points. That’s an impressive scoring rate for a forward, let alone a d-man. He finished with a dozen goals, his highest total since that ’09-’10 campaign. Of his 26 points, 14 came with the Caps on the power play.
Over the weekend, Green officially announced his return to elite status. He had the only goal of Game 2 in overtime, ripping an absolute laser from the point that Henrik Lundqvist couldn’t keep up with. He finished that game with four hits, the one goal, and a blocked shot.
If Mike Green is really back to the form that he showcased in the years prior to his injury issues ravaging his performance, this Capitals team becomes that much more dangerous. They’re a Stanley Cup threat for other reasons, but Green is a tremendous reason why.