EDMONTON, Alberta | Let’s start with the obvious: Sean Collins is not Mike Green. Collins knows it, the Capitals know it … you get the idea.
But with the 27-year-old Hershey Bears call-up likely playing Thursday at the Oilers instead of the NHL All-Star defenseman, the Caps insist not a whole lot will be different.
“I don’t think we change anything,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “It’s not like he’s been having to take the entire load of the D corps. So it’s the exact same game, just with Collie instead of Greenie.”
One automatic change will come on the power play, as John Carlson steps up into the rotation of point men (more on that in Friday’s Washington Times). But five-on-five, how much should the blue-liners expect to be affected by Green’s ankle injury and Collins being in there instead?
They say not much.
“I think Collins will just hold up,” defenseman Roman Hamrlik said. “The first seven games the D pairs averaged ice time pretty much the same. I think they’re going to coach us the same way with Greenie out of the lineup.”
Green maybe hasn’t taken on “the entire load” but he leads the Caps in ice time at 22:45 per game. Players will have to compensate for that.
All-around, though, the Washington defensive corps has shared the minutes pretty well.
Here are the numbers:
Average ice time
Average even-strength time
Throw Collins into the mix – partnering with Jeff Schultz – and those two are hoping to coalesce quickly.
“I’ve played with Collie before. I know he’s not going to do anything too crazy out there,” Schultz said. “It’s just a matter of good communication and helping each other out – being in position. If things aren’t going right, just be there to help him out and just go out and play – don’t over-think too much.”
Collins, who figures to play somewhere between 11 and 15 minutes, doesn’t want to emulate Green but do the same things that made him successful in Hershey.
“Kind of keep things simple, make good, hard plays: Don’t give their forwards any time and space,” he said. “Give them some good quality minutes and do what I can to help the team out.”