The defenseman is by far the Caps’ leader in ice time, averaging 26:33 a game before the injury. In the meantime, the team leaned heavily on John Carlson.
“We need [Green]; he plays a lot of minutes,” coach Adam Oates said. “We really wore Carly out, and it’d be great to have him back and reduce some of his stress. He’s a top defenseman in this league.”
Carlson played 26:15, 30:34 and 22:42 in the three games Green missed. The 23-year-old had a goal and a minus-1 rating.
“I thought he played fantastic,” Oates said of Carlson. “But it’s not something you want to do. You don’t want to play a guy 30 minutes; you want to have him fresher as the game goes along. I thought he played great for us.”
Green on Monday pronounced himself 100 percent and said a couple of days off made all the difference. He expressed no concern about playing in the Caps’ back-to-back games, Tuesday against Carolina and Wednesday at the Philadelphia Flyers.
“The reason why I’m able to play is because I’m 100 percent,” Green said. “And it was either kind of battle through it on Saturday or else wait until I’m 100 percent so I could play the back-to-backs. So here we are.”
Oates similarly dismissed any worries about the back-to-back games.
“It’s not an injury that gets tired,” Oates said. “You can either play or you can’t.”
Dmitry Orlov was cleared for contact this week, but the 21-year-old defenseman might not be able to play in a game with the Hershey Bears any time soon.
Orlov suffered an upper-body injury that’s believed to be a concussion when the Bears played the Norfolk Admirals at Verizon Center on Dec. 6. He began skating with Hershey teammates recently, but Tuesday was the first time he was able to skate without a no-contact jersey.
“I think it is a significant [step],” Bears coach Mark French said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. “Because of the duration that he’s been out, he’s been skating with us the last few weeks, but the fact that he’s been cleared to take contact now I think is a real good step.
“I think he was energized by that today and was real excited to be out there and have no restrictions on him. And hopefully we can progress and keep moving forward with him.”
French said he believed the plan was for Orlov to have two weeks of practicing with contact and then the team will evaluate him “almost on a daily basis.” Orlov won’t be able to play this weekend for the Bears, French said, though he was hopeful about the following weekend.