If there’s one guy on the Washington Capitals, or any NHL team for that matter, who’s overdue for an extended run of good health, it’s Mike Green. At age 27, the Caps blueliner has already had a full career’s worth of injuries.
Now there might be cause for concern again. Green made only a brief appearance at Washington’s Saturday practice, and his status for today’s game at the New York Rangers is now uncertain. A lower-body injury is the culprit, apparently suffered against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.
While Green may never again post the kind of heady offensive numbers he did during the first few years of the Bruce Boudreau era, the Caps recent turnaround could quickly be shifted into reverse if he ends up missing any significant time. Green is logging the most ice time of his career at 26:33 per game, he’s got an important role manning the point on the team’s suddenly productive power play, and he’s +3, second-best on the team.
So even though we’re not talking about someone as irreplaceable as Erik Karlsson, there isn’t anyone the Caps could plug in to take Green’s spot. Veterans Tom Poti and Roman Hamrlik give the team the illusion of defensive depth, but there’s a reason both of them are healthy scratches unless there are no other options. And other guys Washington might want to play, like Jack Hillen or maybe Dmitry Orlov, are (you guessed it) injured.
We’ve already seen what happened when John Erskine wasn’t in the lineup, and it wasn’t good (three losses, 14 goals allowed). Losing Green would be worse. In the short term, sure, Poti can play and other d-men can pick up some extra minutes. That’s no long term solution though.
If you’ve got any extra rabbit’s feet, four-leafed clovers or any other kinds of lucky talismans, you may want to consider sending them to Green now to ensure his current ailment is just a minor annoyance. Both he and his team really need that to be the case.