The Washington Capitals have been able to hold their own for most of the NHL season so far. Currently sitting in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, they were able to recover from an early losing skid by going on a tear through late October and early November. This is helped in part by team captain Alex Ovechkin and his league-leading 30 goals. He’s second on the team in overall points behind Nicklas Backstrom‘s 42. Other players, such as Joel Ward and Mikhail Grabovski, have been able to lend a helping hand as well.
However, despite all this, a few members of the team have been struggling. Martin Erat, after being acquired from the Nashville Predators earlier this year, has yet to score and is already demanding a trade. Meanwhile, defenseman Mike Green started the year in pretty miserable fashion.
For the first 24 games of the season, Green failed to register a goal. It was a frustrating start for a defenseman who, at one point in his career, notched 31 goals in a season. During this funk, frustration was being noticed by his teammates and Capitals coach Adam Oates. As the calendar turned to December, though, Green saw an end to his scoring slump, scoring his first of the year against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Green has only gone on to score one more goal since then, but he’s gaining confidence on the ice after an early skid left him pretty deflated. Going by his words, Caps fans can expect to see the old Green soon enough.
“I was fighting it for a little while,” Green said. “But I think I’m coming into my own again. I think it’s just taken some time to get my feel in the game. Sometimes you go through those stretches. It’s definitely gone on a little longer than I’ve wanted, but I feel I’m improving.”
For the year, Green has two goals and 16 assists. While 18 points aren’t terrible, he’s shown he’s capable of better. Though his team is currently in playoff position, they could certainly use more from their top scoring option on the blue line. They’re 13 points behind the Metropolitan Division leading Pittsburgh Penguins, so winning the division might be a little out of the question. However, a winning streak could certainly move them as high as third place in the conference.
In order to do that, they’ll need Ovechkin and Backstrom to keep up their pace, but getting Green back to normal would go a long way as well. For the team’s sake, they better hope he’s right when saying he’s improving.