Mike Green doesn’t practice, unlikely to play Thursday against Oilers

Collins enters lineup as Boudreau shuffles defensive pairings

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EDMONTON, Alberta — Mike Green was still limping around Wednesday. Even worse was that he was limping around after not taking part in the Washington Capitals’ practice at Rexall Place.

It now appears unlikely the defenseman with the twisted right ankle will be in the lineup Thursday night against the Edmonton Oilers.

“It doesn’t look good for [Thursday],” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “He didn’t go on the ice today. He’s on the trip and he’s going to skate [Thursday] morning, so let’s hope for the best.”

Even if it’s just for one night, the Caps are hoping they can make up for the loss of Green, who has showed flashes of past brilliance early this season.

“Hopefully he’s going to be back soon,” defenseman Roman Hamrlik said. “These things happen; guys get hurt. … It’s a huge loss for us for our five-on-five and on special teams, too.”

Sean Collins gets the call to replace Green in the lineup, though the 27-year-old understands he’s not an exact substitute.

“Me and Mike are two totally different players. He’s obviously a lot more gifted offensively than I am,” Collins admitted. “So they expect different things out of me when I’m out there. The same thing I do in Hershey — kind of keep things simple, make good, hard plays. Don’t give their forwards any time and space. Give them some good quality minutes and do what I can to help the team out.”

Collins is expected to play alongside Jeff Schultz on the Caps’ third pairing. Schultz is confident that he and Collins (who have played together before) will be able to get in sync quickly and be effective.

“It’s just a matter of good communication and helping each other out — being in position,” Schultz said. “If things aren’t going right, just be there to help him out and just go out and play — don’t overthink too much.”

But Green’s injury creates something of a domino effect for Washington, which is forced to adjust on the power play and in five-on-five situations. The top duo of Karl Alzner and John Carlson remains the same, but now Dennis Wideman and Hamrlik get tossed together and are forced to develop chemistry on the fly.

They played together in the preseason, but Boudreau is already second-guessing himself on defensive pairings.

“They’re both veteran guys and they’re experienced and they play off each other well,” the coach said. “I’m wondering now that Wideman and Schultz are playing well together, whether we should’ve broke them up.”

On the power play is where Hamrlik said the Caps will most need to compensate for Green not being in the lineup. He and Wideman had been so effective together at the points, providing some scary weapons for opposing penalty kills.

“We’re going to miss him obviously on the power play,” Hamrlik said. “Last game he has big goals for us. He’s big quarterback on the blue line.”

The trickle-down effect means Carlson jumps onto the power play. And while he doesn’t have quite the shot Green does, he’s not a bad replacement to have.

“We’re blessed. There’s no doubt about it, we’re fortunate that Carly can jump in there, and he’s a good offensive defenseman,” Boudreau said. “He’s accepted his role right now as a really good defensive defenseman. I’m sure every chance he gets to get on the power play, he’s going to relish it and hopefully take advantage of it.”

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