Capitals defenseman Mike Green is confident he can rediscover his offensive touch after signing a three-year, $18.5 million extension.
Green, 26, racked up 73 and 76 points in 2008-09 and 2009-10, respectively, leading the league in scoring among defensemen in each season.
But it’s been a struggle since then. Forced to deal with injuries, combined with a coaching staff that implemented a more conservative playing style, Green’s managed just 31 points in 81 games over the last two seasons.
Asked yesterday if he can get back on track, Green didn’t hesitate.
“A hundred percent,” he said in a conference call, “and it’ll be next year.”
Green also sounded optimistic about playing under new head coach Adam Oates, who’s expected to give the Caps a little more freedom to try and create offense than they got under their last bench boss, Dale Hunter.
“What Dale expected was kind of a grinder, chip-in, chip-out kind of game,” Green said. “I respect him as a coach and I played that way and played hard for him. But at the same time I’m excited that Adam is here – actually, really excited.
“From what I heard, how he likes to coach fits my style of play and hopefully a lot of the other guys.”
Nobody could’ve expected Green to produce at the same level he did when the Caps were running and gunning. Alex Ovechkin didn’t. Neither did Alex Semin. Ditto for Nicklas Backstrom.
In fact, it’s still unrealistic to expect Green to score 70-plus points in 2012-13. Washington will undoubtedly open it up, but Oates isn’t about to let the Caps ignore defense completely.
If Green can flirt with the 60-point mark and play reasonably sound defense, he’ll have more than done his job.
Remember, only one defenseman, Erik Karlsson, scored more than 53 points in 2011-12.