Mike Green looked winded. He was making mistakes that since his comeback in Game 1 against the Rangers he had avoided. Yet it’s not hard to explain at least one reason he struggled Friday night in the Capitals’ loss to the Lightning.
Green was just tired. He played 27:05, including 11:25 in the third period following an injury to top-pairing defenseman John Carlson.
“When you look at Mike Green’s minutes being 27 minutes, it’s too high,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “He had a great series against New York and he was playing 18, 19, 20 minutes. Those are the kind of minutes we’ve gotta get back for him.”
Green, who missed the final month and a half of the regular season after suffering a concussion, was eased back into action in the playoffs. This was a much different game, and he agreed with Boudreau’s assertion.
“I feel the same way,” Green said. To be effective, especially in playoffs, you gotta keep your shifts short and be fresh, and I felt like I was out there a little too much and wasn’t able to as productive as I felt I could’ve been.”
Carlson was hurt with about five minutes to go in the second period. He took a short shift in the third but did not return after that. On Saturday Boudreau sounded optimistic about the rookie playing in Game 2 on Sunday night at Verizon Center.
“I think he’s – pretty good chance that he’ll play [Sunday],” Boudreau said. “But I’m not 100 percent sure.”
Carlson’s defensive partner, Karl Alzner, said he and his teammates have gotten used to playing with five defensemen given the barrage of injuries they’ve suffered in recent weeks. Still, everyone understands his value.
“John’s a huge part of this team so I think it affects the team as a whole instead of just any individual guy,” Alzner said. “He’s also a tough guy that can battle so we’d like to have him back.”
If Carlson is unable to go in Game 2 against Tampa Bay, it would likely mean Sean Collins’ Stanley Cup Playoffs debut. Boudreau said neither Tom Poti (groin) nor Dennis Wideman (leg) would be able to step into the lineup Sunday.