TAMPA, Fla. | Mike Green went from tenuous skating to team practices to back in the Washington Capitals’ lineup rather quickly. Sports hernia surgery well in the rearview mirror, the Caps activated the defenseman on Saturday and plugged him into the lineup in spot duty against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
And although he was a nonfactor in the 2-1 loss, Green’s health is a silver lining of sorts for a team desperately in need of good news, as he reported no problems after the game.
“Good. Really good,” Green said when asked how he was feeling. “Took some time in the first period to get my feel back, but I felt really good.”
Green saw limited action throughout: 18 shifts for 14:14 of ice time officially with one penalty and no shots.
“He was good.,” coach Dale Hunter said. “He’s going to be rusty a little bit, but he skated OK.”
Green reported no groin soreness despite needing some time to warm up. Not playing every shift was an adjustment for him in a couple different ways.
“Obviously you’re not used to that – not only physically, but mentally, and that was the biggest challenge for tonight,” he said. “But after I got going in the first period, going into the second and third I felt better.”
The 26-year-old was seeing his first game action since Jan. 7 when he left a loss to the San Jose Sharks early. He returned to the Caps’ lineup 32 days after sports hernia surgery.
Green and the Caps will have an off-day Sunday in Raleigh, N.C., in preparation for Monday night’s game at the Carolina Hurricanes. And he doesn’t mind the way it worked out.
“I think we scheduled for me to come back so that I can have a day off tomorrow and rest and do the right things to recover for Monday,” Green said. “That’s the plan and we’ll stick to it.”
The plan for Monday could include a heftier workload, though it’s not certain whether the Caps will again go with seven defensemen and limit what Green will have to do.
“I would hope more,” he said. “I would like to get playing a little bit more as quick as possible. But it’s not up to me, so we’ll see.”
Hunter mentioned that Saturday night’s performance was certainly progress.
“Every game is another added time for him to get stronger and stronger,” the coach said. “It’s a good showing his first game.”