Mike Green was not feeling “good enough” to play Thursday night against the New Jersey Devils, coach Adam Oates said, and the Washington Capitals defenseman knew it.
“You’ve got to play it smart,” Green said Friday. “It’s better I be safe than sorry and be out for longer.”
Oates deferred to trainer Greg Smith’s discretion when asked about Green’s status. It’s uncertain if the Green will be able to play Saturday afternoon against the Devils.
“We’ll see, yeah,” Green said. “I’m hoping.”
Green missed 41 games last season with a groin injury. He said Thursday he has dealt with this injury before.
But the 27-year-old reported feeling better after another practice day.
“We’ve done this right, we’ve done the necessary steps and I feel good,” Green said. “So it’s been a quick turnaround.”
Without Green for the past two games, defenseman John Carlson has led Washington in ice time. He played a season-high 30:34 Thursday night.
“Yeah, you worry about tomorrow,” Oates said. “Thirty minutes and tomorrow how’s he going to feel at noon? It’s all cumulative how it adds up, right?”
And so does forcing rookie Tomas Kundratek into a bigger role.
“You don’t want to put guys in situations that they’re not used to,” Oates said. “It’s also a good chance for Kundy to prove who he can be and all those kind of things. But you have your guys for a reason.”
Oates has called Green the Caps’ “guy” before. There’s a reason for that.
He plays in every situation, plays a lot of minutes,” the coach said. “When you play that many minutes, you’re expecting so many decisions based on that because of who he is and how many good decisions he makes, it helps our club.”