As much heat as Alex Ovechkin and Bruce Boudreau received (and will continue to catch) for the Washington Capitals’ stunning first round loss to the Montreal Canadiens, it’s quite possible that no one was under the French fry lamp quite like Mike Green. Much of that negative attention comes with a second consecutive Norris Trophy nomination, but either way the young offensive defenseman is often criticized for his work in his own end.
Green finally met with the media today after dodging typical opportunities on two occasions. Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post gathered some of his thoughts. Here’s a few of the highlighted questions and answers.
Q: What needs to be different so you don’t have another [letdown] in next year’s postseason? A: I think mentally I was preparing myself for the playoffs to play strong defensively. When all season you’re an offensive-minded player, and you get criticized about your defensive play, you try to adjust to become that complete player. Going into the playoffs, I wanted to play strong defensively. And maybe that [affected] my offense.”
Q: So was there too much going on in your [mind]? A: When that gets into your head, you tend to not do the right things at the right times. You just have to be better.
Q: What were your raw emotions after the loss? A: It was overwhelming. You almost want to cry. It’s disappointing. [Tearing up slightly.] The way I felt after that game is something I hope I never feel again. The expectations we had upon ourselves and what happened … The tough part for me is that it takes 82 more games to get another opportunity. That’s a long time.
That 82-game gap must be interminable, something that the San Jose Sharks could relate to. In the fishbowl of a 7-game series, three games seems like an eternity yet when you compare that stretch to full season it’s next to nothing. Yet that’s what makes the playoffs nerve-wracking and brilliant; any team can seize an advantage and beat a juggernaut.
I’ll leave you with Green’s reasoning for missing the 2010 IIHF World Championships and perhaps some explanation regarding his disappointing playoff output?
Q: Tough decision not to play in worlds? A: Yeah, it is. I would have loved to go. But I did have an injury and George [McPhee] felt that I shouldn’t go.
Q: What was the injury? A: My wrist. … I took a slash against Columbus [April 3].
Q: Need surgery? How much did it affect you? A: No. It didn’t affect me that much. It’s just [that] it’s not going to get better if I keep playing.
“Nope,” Dubinsky said. “You know, I’ve played the same way my whole career and I’m not going to change. The next time I have an opportunity to play (Crosby), I’m going to play him hard.”
In case you’re wondering, that next opportunity comes on Dec. 21 in Pittsburgh, assuming that both players are healthy and not suspended.
One can understand Dubinsky’s perspective, although such honesty would be that much more interesting if there’s another incident with Crosby. His initial reaction to the hit was interestingly candid, admitting that his “stick rode up” on his adversary.
Would that stance – which, from a harsher view, might seem flippant to Dubinsky’s critics – open the door for a bigger future bit of a discipline?
Maybe, maybe not … but at least his comments aren’t as inflammatory as what John Tortorella said (at least on the record).
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