WASHINGTON D.C. - Despite not practicing Monday, Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green fully participated in practice Tuesday and say he's ready to return when the Caps begin the second round of play in the 2011 NHL Playoffs.
"I feel great," Green said. "I had a good skate today. We worked hard. I feel good."
Green left Saturday's Game 5 against the New York Rangers after taking a puck to the side of his head while blocking a shot. He did not return, but head coach Bruce Boudreau said after the game that he could have returned if they needed him to. Green has dealt with head injuries all season. The original injury occurred February 6 against the Pittsburgh Penguins when he took a Brooks Orpik slap shot to the head. Along with an elbow from the Rangers' Derek Stepan February 25, Green missed the last 20 games of the regular season and 26 of the last 28. When asked if Saturday's incident was similar to the one in February, Green said that the helmet got most of the puck this time.
"The first one was a lot different than this one," Green said. "Right away, I knew with the first one. This one, I got up right away. Other than it stinging a little bit, I was fine."
The good news for the Washington Capitals? They have vanquished the New York Rangers in the first round of the 2011 NHL Playoffs and now await a second round opponent? The bad news? Star Capitals defenseman Mike Green took yet another shot to the head in Game Five, scaring a fanbase that has already seen Green miss 26 games of the regular season due to head injuries.
But back to what is probably good news. Despite absorbing a slap shot to the face off of the stick of Ranger Doug Gilroy that had enough force to knock two screws out of Green's helmet, the Washington defenseman was able to walk off the ice on his own power. And, more importantly, Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said Green even could've come back into the game:
"He’s OK. We could’ve played him," Boudreau said. "But the longer it went, we just said, ‘OK, let’s see if we can’t get by, let’s see if we can’t get by.’ If that little scrum at the end had’ve happened 14 minutes beforehand when John [Erskine] would get kicked out and another defenseman got kicked out, then we would’ve played him. We could’ve played him. "He got a puck to the head, but he told me he was fine after the game."
Even if the coach is being overly optimistic, the good news for Washington is their quick first round victory gives the team probably four days of rest before Round 2 begins.
Mike Green had another scary moment involving a slap shot in the Capitals' 2011 NHL Playoffs Game 5 against the New York Rangers on Saturday. The Capitals' defensemen took another slap shot to the face, and was taken out of the game after lying on the ice for several minutes. His return is questionable.
Green was laying out on the ground to block a shot by Doug Gilroy. Gilroy's shot nailed Green in his helment, removing two screws in the process. Green did walk off on his own power, though, which is a good sign for his health.
The injury is particularly scary for Green because he missed most of the second half of the season after suffering a concussion stemming from an incident where he had a slap shot nail him in the face in a Super Bowl Sunday game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. It is not known whether Green went through the standard 15-minutes-in-a-quiet-room process that the NHL mandates for anyone who has concussion syndromes.
The Washington Capitals have played the entire last part of the season without defensemen Mike Green, who has been held out since early February with a series of head injuries. However, the plan for now is to have Green back in the lineup for Game 1 of the 2011 NHL Playoffs against the New York Rangers.
Green's return is a big boost to the Capitals, who are also dealing with injuries to fellow defensemen Dennis Wideman and Tom Poti. Wideman is not expected to play in the first round, while Poti's status remains up in the air. The Rangers, of course, are also dealing with a serious injury to second-leading scorer Ryan Callahan, who will not play in the entire series.