TAMPA, Fla. | Mike Green’s body language and his progress Saturday morning were hard to read. But the injured Washington Capitals defenseman sounded optimistic.
“I’m starting to feel good and getting back to my feel on the ice,” he said. “I feel healthy.”
Healthy enough to play, as Green will return to the lineup Saturday night at the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Caps on Saturday activated him off the long-term injured reserve list after yet another day of skating and are dressing seven defensemen.
Green has not played since Jan. 7 at San Jose. He underwent sports hernia surgery on Jan. 17 that was set to take him out four-to-six weeks. This is well within that range, even in the earlier part of it.
The Caps’ beleaguered power play could get a boost from Green, who may just see spot duty with the man advantage. Coach Dale Hunter said Friday that he would use seven defensemen in that situation.
Green earlier Saturday offered his take on what the power play has been doing wrong.
“We’ve got to work harder. I think we take shots and we’re getting good, quality shots, but we’re not working hard enough to get it back,” Green said. “Anytime the puck goes in the corner or we dump it, they’re retrieving the puck and they’re dumping it down the ice and it kills a lot of our momentum and a lot of our time on the power play.
“We’ve got to be smarter with the puck, hold onto it, make sure we’re making plays and the smart plays – not through the seam, up top move, get them moving around and things will open up. Obviously we have an extra guy on the ice; we’ve got to utilize it.”
Jay Beagle draws the short straw as a healthy scratch to make room for Green. Tomas Vokoun starts in goal at Tampa Bay.