- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 17, 2011

DENVER — Just as the team promised, injured defenseman Mike Green joined the Washington Capitals in Colorado. But the plan was for him to skate, too — something that did not happen Saturday morning.

Green, who missed his 17th straight game Saturday night with a strained right groin, saw a specialist this week and did some off-ice workouts at Pepsi Center. Coach Dale Hunter said Green’s status hasn’t changed.

“I haven’t seen him on the bench playing, but it just takes time. It will heal,” Hunter said. “Time heals everything and it just takes time. It’s something that you can’t rush.”

Green suffered the groin injury Nov. 11, and though Hunter called his seeing a specialist this week a “good sign,” there’s no timetable for his return.

“It’s not worse than we already knew and he has been making progress,” general manager George McPhee said Wednesday. “We’re just trying to expedite things.”

Green has missed 22 of the past 23 games because of injury.

Hendricks returns in familiar place

Forward Matt Hendricks returned to the Caps lineup Saturday night against the Colorado Avalanche —
good timing, as he made his NHL debut at this arena.

Hendricks, who missed four games with a right knee injury, played his first NHL game against the Atlanta Thrashers on March 9, 2009 and remembers it well.

“Came out of the penalty box, got kind of a short little breakaway, hit the crossbar,” he said. “I wish that one would’ve went in; that would’ve been a lot of fun.”

Hendricks went into Saturday night’s game as the only regular Caps forward not to score a goal this season.

Hunter praises Landeskog

Hunter knows Avalanche No. 2 pick Gabriel Landeskog well — perhaps too well — from his time as coach of the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. Playing for the Kitchener Rangers, the forward showed why he was a top NHL prospect, in part by putting up four goals and three assists in six games against London last season.

“He’s a complete player. … He’s very good defensively. He’s a big guy. He’s an all-around player,” Hunter said. “He was tough, too. He’d fight too. He was the captain of the team, and he fought against us a couple times. He’s a real leader.”

Milan Hejduk is Colorado’s captain, but that job could be Landeskog’s once he matures more at the professional level. He’s just 19 years old but is physically capable at 6-foot-1 and 204 pounds and has already put up five goals and eight assists this season.

It’s unusual for a power player like Landeskog to make such a quick adjustment, but Hunter wasn’t surprised he has fit in so well as a top-six forward with the Avalanche.

“[He is] one of them kids that can step in the NHL because he can play both ends of the ice,” Hunter said. “Some guys take longer than others. He looked in junior last year that he was ready to step in next year.”

• Stephen Whyno can be reached at swhyno@washingtontimes.com.

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