- The Washington Times - Friday, April 24, 2009

Mike Green had one of the great offensive seasons by a defenseman in his lifetime, and the young Washington Capitals star has a chance to join a select group because of it.

On Thursday, Green was named a finalist for the Norris Trophy, which is awarded to the NHL’s best defenseman via a vote by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. The other two finalists are Boston’s Zdeno Chara and Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom.

“It is definitely a big honor,” the 23-year-old said. “I am very proud, and it has been a long season. To be rewarded like that is pretty special. I never really thought that would ever happen, but here it is.”

If Green wins, he would be the fifth player his age or younger to claim the award. The other four - Bobby Orr, Denis Potvin, Paul Coffey and Brian Leetch - are among the greatest to play the position.

Green had 31 goals this season - the most by a defenseman since Washington’s Kevin Hatcher had 34 in 1992-93 - and his 73 points paced all defensemen. During the season, he scored in eight straight games - a first for an NHL defensemen - and had 18 power-play goals, one short of the NHL record for a blueliner. Edmonton’s Sheldon Souray set the mark two seasons ago.

“He broke a lot of records this year and has really worked hard on his defensive game,” defenseman Brian Pothier said. “I think the offensive part of his game is sort of inevitable. It was going to come, and it did. The ‘D’ side, he has really committed to it and improved dramatically.”

Green is up against two players who are generally considered the best all-around defensemen in the league. Lidstrom has six Norris wins, which ranks third in league history. Chara, a four-time All-Star, is a finalist for a second straight year.

While Green’s offensive numbers are extraordinary, his reputation on defense around the league isn’t at the same level. But he was a plus-24 this season, and his coach and teammates have lauded him for his improvement in his end.

“He never gets enough credit, but [everyone] focuses on the offense,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “But if you look at our team and who’s on [the ice] in the last minute, you look at who’s on penalty killing and you look at ice time when we need a goal and who’s on - it’s Mike Green. No disrespect to the two unbelievably good defensemen that he’s up against, but the award is based upon the year that you’ve had.

“And Mike has had a tremendous year.”

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