WINNIPEG, Manitoba | When the NHL announced it was returning to Winnipeg last summer, Mike Green was paying attention. The Washington Capitals defenseman isn’t from around here like ex-teammate Eric Fehr, but he had his sights set on facing the Jets.
Friday night will be his first chance to play a game at MTS Centre.
“I’m excited,” Green said after the morning skate. “When they announced the team this year before the season, that was one of the things I was looking forward to was playing here. I didn’t get a chance all year but [I’m] fortunate enough to play tonight.”
Green sat out the past three games serving a three-game suspension for hitting Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brett Connolly in the head March 8.
“You’re definitely unaware of how you’re going to feel in the game,” Green said. “It’s definitely quicker and whatnot than practice. But I’m not worried at all.”
Usually players glean something from watching from the press box, but sitting out three more games in an injury-riddled season really didn’t help Green.
“It’s the same old. I thought the team played really well,” he said. “Other than that, no. I’ve watched a lot of games this year. The three that I sat out for wouldn’t make a difference.”
Green will start the game paired with Dmitry Orlov. Roman Hamrlik comes out of the lineup after playing well in Green’s absence.
“He was good. He was solid,” coach Dale Hunter said of Hamrlik on Thursday. “Solid defensively, blocked shots, did what he had to do.”
Now Green will go back in and do what he has to do, including jumping back on the power play.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s back for one of the biggest if not the biggest games of the season.
“Absolutely. I like to play in these games,” Green said. “They’re the fun ones, and the team’s been on a roll. So hopefully we can keep that going.”