October 22 was perhaps Mike Green’s best game earlier in the season. Two goals and two assists against the Detroit Red Wings and the Washington Capitals defenseman looked like every bit of his old Norris Trophy finalist form.
But an ankle injury that day and a groin injury in November changed everything. It’s almost impossible to fathom, but his goal Sunday in Game 6 was his first goal in 31 games and first under coach Dale Hunter.
“When he was skating by, when he was touching gloves on the bench, it was a sigh of relief,” forward Jay Beagle said. “You know, he’s like, ‘Finally.’ ”
Green has enjoyed not being burdened with the pressure of needing to score, but no goals and just two secondary assists since returning from sports hernia surgery in February was still hard to see.
“Every player, anybody that’s played a game, it weighs on you when you see a goose egg in that column,” Hunter said. “For Greenie to get it, it was a big goal for us to get us going again and they scored. It was good for him to see it go; hopefully he can continue it on next game.”
It was a prototypical Green set up to a goal, too, as he waited out the Boston forward Gregory Campbell and fired a wrister that banked in off Greg Zanon and in.
“[Campbell] went down, and I wasn’t gonna be able to get through, so I waited for him to stand back up and got the puck through and was fortunate it went in,” Green said.
It was a tremendous show of patience for the 26-year-old mired in such a goal drought.
“A lot of times when a guy scores, I know myself included, that you’re feeling extra good about yourself the next day,” defenseman John Carlson said.