Barring something unforeseen happening between now and the time the Capitals take the ice around 7:30 Wednesday night, one thing’s pretty certain: Mike Green is playing in Game 1 against the Rangers.
“I’ve been so excited to get back here,” Green said Wednesday morning after the morning skate in Arlington. “I’ve been ready for a while. It’s just a matter of timing and what a better way to start playing again than the playoffs.”
Of course he slipped in a mention of “whether I am in the lineup or not, we’ll see tonight” and coach Bruce Boudreau repeated that Green was a “game-time” decision. When pressed by ESPN’s Scott Burnside, Boudreau smiled and said: “I’m hoping. Still one more check here and we’ll figure it out.”
Green will likely skate with John Erskine in the third defensive pairing, with Karl Alzner and John Carlson making up the first unit and Scott Hannan and Jeff Schultz the second. No matter where he plays though, teammates expect Green to make an impact.
“It means a lot. He’s the top defenseman in this league … he moves the puck, he skates well, he adds a snipe to our power play,” Hannan said. “Anytime you can get a player like that back, it’s gonna be a bonus to our team.”
And a boon to the power play, too. Green is likely to work with Carlson on the second unit, with five forwards on the top grouping.
“On the power play it’s the same thing, no matter who you’re playing with – you’re trying to score a goal. Having Greenie obviously helps,” Carlson said.
Boudreau has discussed Green’s conditioning in glowing terms over the past week and doesn’t have any fear that the All-Star defenseman will be able to get into a rhythm. Green feels the same way.
“I’m sure it’ll take a couple [shifts] to get my feel back,” he said. “It’ll take a couple shifts but no longer than that.”