Photo: Getty Images
During a recent broadcast, CSN displayed a graphic showing where Nick Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin currently rank on the Caps all-time assist leaderboard. It wasn’t the first time this season we’ve seen graphics showing those two, plus Mike Green, sitting near the top on Caps all-time leaderboards. Allow me to quote myself:
8, 19, and 52's place on #Caps all-time scoring lists is impressive. May we all appreciate watching this awesome time in club history
— BrooksLaichyear (@brookslaichyear) November 12, 2014
I know Ovechkin’s play frustrates some people. Mike Green has taken criticism as well– whether it be about his health or purported weakness in the defensive zone. Let’s put that last part aside for now, but I’ll come back to it.
Let me get this out of the way: Mike Green is a great hockey player. No matter how bad some people claim he is at defense or how “soft” he may be in the defensive zone, the Caps are a much better team when Mike Green is on the ice.
(And no, he shouldn’t be made a forward.)
With that out of the way, let’s move into full Mike Green appreciation mode and recognize how great it is that he’s actually been healthy this season.
First, Green is outscoring everybody. His 1.94 points per 60 minutes of 5v5 ranks first among all NHL defensemen who have skated 150+ minutes this season. Green’s 12 points rank 7th among all NHL defensemen. We are only 16 games in, but, so far, Mike Green is back.
But something about Mike Green is back bothers me. He’s had injury problems, sure, but when healthy he was pretty much always a great player. While his offensive totals don’t come close to the fabled 2009-10 season, that’s true for just about any player from that Caps team.
Since 2007, Green has averaged 0.48 or more points per game in all but one season. That is significant. Since 2007, there have been 204 examples of defensemen who have averaged 0.48 or more points per game, played in 30+ games and skated 650+ minutes. Mike Green is responsible for six of those 204. Maybe 204 times seems like a lot, but consider that 1,311 defenseman skated 650+ minutes in a single season during that time. Only Dan Boyle, Zdeno Chara, Duncan Keith, Mark Streit, Shea Weber have joined Green in getting that many points six times. No one has done it 7.
Mike Green isn’t back, he’s been here the whole time.
A nifty chart.
|Player||5-on-5 points per 60||PP Points per 60||Overall point per 60||Relative SA%|
|Green||1.15 (4th)||4.79 (7th)||1.82 (2nd)||+3.35 (22nd)|
These numbers are since 2007. In parenthesis are Green’s rank among the 321 defensemen to have skated 1200+ minutes in that time.
And here’s the difference in how the Capitals have outshot– or been outshot– with or without Mike Green over his whole career.
With one exception, the Capitals have always done better– much better– when Mike Green is on the ice.
Mike Green is awesome.
Some might say that, despite all of this, Green’s dynamic offensive skills don’t outweigh his weaknesses. To that I say C’mon. Mike Green has been the second most productive defenseman per 60 minutes of play since 2007. He has also improved his team’s possession more than all but 21 NHL defenseman in that time, indicated by a 3.35 percent improvement the Caps see with Green on the ice, ranking 22nd.
“Oh sure, he’s good offensively, but he’s terrible at defense.” But of the 321 defenders to have played 1200+ minutes since 2007, Green ranks 88th in limiting opponent shots. Yes, Mike Green ranks in the 73rd percentile of the thing people say he is bad at, shot suppression. That’s a pretty good indicator that Green’s apparent weakness isn’t a weakness at all.
Mike Green is a great hockey player. Having him on the Caps is something we should all enjoy for however long it lasts.
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