Mike Green, who has hand tattoos, is a great hockey player. If you ask me– which in a way just by reading this article you sorta are– he’s a crucial piece of the Washington Capitals. So if this is Game Over for Green in DC, he will be dearly missed. If you don’t believe me about that, I’ve got 1400 words and a few megabytes of pictures that will change your mind.
|19:06||Average time on ice per game|
|52.7%||Shot attempt percentage during 5v5|
|57.5%||Goal percentage during 5v5|
Green’s on-ice shot-attempt percentage in 10-game running segments, according to War on Ice:
Once upon a time, Mike Green scored 31 goals and was first runner-up in the Norris competition. Then the Caps got unlucky, changed their style, fired their coach, and Mike Green got hurt. Basically, at some point around 2011, the fates and the furies got together and decided to eff Mike Green properly. That big $18-million contract he signed in 2012 didn’t really account for all the misfortune he and his team would face over the next three years, and instead of throwing up our arms and saying welp, stuff happens, hockey fans and pundits have leveled jeremiads against the player.
They’re wrong. Here’s why.
Mike Green’s 2014-15 accomplishments:
* Okay, sure, he also had the highest PDO among defensemen, but you get the idea.
For all the supposed degradation in Green’s game, 2014-15 was his best defensive year by far– his goals-against per 60 minutes (1.757) dipped under 2.00 for the first time ever. Surely the team’s less incompetent defensive system and Green’s dramatically lowered workload (under 20 minutes a night for the first time since he was 21 year old) factored in, but I think it’s also indicative that Green could have done a heluva lot more. Because, however big the asterisk you hang on Green’s defensive achievement based on his playing lesser opponents, I think the counterweight of his truly terrible defensive partners in Jack Hillen and Tim Gleason should nullify it.
Green had a banner year, and he freaking earned it. I reject out of hand any representation of Green as sheltered. This was a player who has been specifically targeted by opposing coaches for half a decade. He hasn’t been sheltered– he’s been the opposite while also recovering from years of injuries the scope of which we do not yet know. And that recovery took the form of a positively lethal power play and the Capitals’ most complete 5v5 game since 2009.
Imagine in your mind every combination of Capitals players and coaches in the last 15 years. Is there any combo that looks better than Green, Schmidt, Backstrom, Ovechkin, and some rando right winger while under the coaching of Barry Trotz? That quartet played only 68 minutes of 5v5 together, but they owned the puck for more than 60 percent of that time. That’s the ideal Capitals lineup, and Green was one big reason why.
Now picture the Capitals power play operating at its zenith. See it in your head. What do you see? Was it Mike Green setting up an Ovi Shot from the Ovi Spot? Of course it was! That’s what made the Capitals power play the dominating force it has been for the past three seasons: Mike Green’s peerless pass to Alex Ovechkin’s fearsome wheelhouse.
My point is this: The Capitals at their best are also Mike Green at his. The platonic ideal of Washington Capitals hockey– be it under Bruce in 2009 or Barry in 2015– requires Mike Green. The team’s fortunes in the last half decade sunk with Green and then rose again with him. Their fates are intertwined.
Or at least, they have been. I haven’t spent this space bemoaning Green’s looming free agency or the Capitals’ seeming reluctance to court him. As much as I think Green is a brilliant player, his talents will absolutely be welcomed in a dozen other franchises. With the young defensive talent currently developing (Bowey, Schmidt, Orlov) and the overly indulgent contract handed out to one veteran defensemen in particular, Green’s imminent departure won’t be shocking or even disappointing. It’ll just be sad.
Save anyone except Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green has been the face of the Washington Capitals for the last 8 years. If this is the end, he will be missed.
Mike Green was a hockey Istari all Thursday night, but never more than he was in overtime.
In the first shift after rego, Mike Green piloted yet another controlled entry into the Columbus zone. Green’s fake shot forced Jack Johnson to revert to his initial form– the NHL’s version of Magikarp. Then Green sailed below the goal line, earning enough space to give Eric Fehr a gorgeous layup.
We close with the matter of the Easton Stealth CNT, the discontinued stick Green hunted for and used this season. When Caps fans found out about the stick via RMNB, they reached out to us by the dozens. They couldn’t wait to give away their prized memorabilia, returning them to the player who needed it. Green thanked them for the sticks, and then scored in torrents. He would score and break a stick, then get another stick and score even more. It became a thing, a glorious thing.
That was my favorite RMNB story of the year, that was my favorite Caps story of the year, and that was my favorite sports story of the year.
I don’t want to turn the comments into a hand-wringing contest. It might be the end of the road for Green’s vespa, but let’s not get down about it. Tell me what you like about his game. Tell me where you wanna see him end up. Tell me your favorite Green moment.
Read more: Japers Rink
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