The Washington Times - February 18, 2012, 01:05PM

TAMPA, Fla. | Mike Green was one of just four players on the ice for a super-optional Washington Capitals morning skate Saturday at Tampa Bay Times Forum, but it’s not clear if his return is imminent or even a couple games away.

Green, who’s trying to get back after Jan. 17 sports hernia surgery was officially called a “game-time decision” by coach Dale Hunter.


Even if he does play Saturday night, it couldy be in spot duty on the power play.

Green skated with fellow scratches from Friday night John Erskine and Keith Aucoin and backup goaltender Michal Neuvirth. Afterward, he was positive about his progress.

Finally I’ve had three skates with team now, today being the fourth,” the 26-year-old defenseman said. “I’m starting to feel good and getting back to my feel on the ice. I feel healthy.”

Green noted this week that he can still feel the effects of the surgery, which repaired a tear in his stomach lining that was causing groin problems. But being on the ice consistently day after day is undoubtedly a good sign.

Still, there’s no real plan for when the Caps expect to have him back, according to Hunter.

We’re playing it by ear,” the coach said. “We’re letting him skate every day and see how it is.”

Hunter pointed out that Green is “working hard out there,” though it’s not clear whether he’s pushing it hard enough to test what a game would do. But he said he’s not looking for anything specific.

I don’t think you can,” Green said. “For me, at least, it’s about my feel on the ice and if I have that feeling where I feel like I can play and move and my hands and my shot, then I’ll be effective. If not, then I won’t.”