Washington Capitals v Philadelphia Flyers

Green faces pivotal season with Caps


It’s easy to dismiss Mike Green, especially after the Washington Capitals added Matt Niskanen to the mix, but he could lose or gain quite a few millions depending upon how he performs during the 2014-15 season.

Remember when Green’s point totals were downplayed in Norris Trophy considerations? That seems like quite a while ago, and to some extent it’s true. The 28-year-old has generated more modest numbers the last four seasons and, to be fair, a 38-point campaign would be a nice year for a healthy number of blueliners, but for Green it’s still a disappointment.

Niskanen (aka the guy who essentially replaces Green in many peoples’ eyes) provides ample evidence that a single season can amplify a defenseman’s status dramatically, so it’s all about opportunity for Green.

Maybe the biggest factor is health.

Green was limited to 70 games last season, only played in 35 out of 48 lockout-shortened games in 2012-13 and has only managed a full season once in his NHL career. Attribute that to his shaky health, tendency to hold onto the puck too much or not, but a healthy season could open the door for Green to make a lot of money and help the Capitals in the process.

There are plenty of variables involved – maybe most importantly how tolerant Barry Trotz will be toward Green taking the occasional chance – but Green can ultimately enjoy a big payday if everything goes right next season.

It’s easy to question the chances of working out … but how might someone have felt about making the same kind of prediction about Niskanen in August 2013?

Sabres place Lehner on IR; Recall Lieuwen

Connor Brown, Robin Lehner
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They’re just one game into their regular season, but the Buffalo Sabres have already had to shift things around in their crease.

The Sabres announced that they have placed starting goaltender Robin Lehner on injured reserve after he was knocked out of Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.

In a corresponding move, the club has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

The 24-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, but he did have a 1-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage in seven games during the 2013-14 season.

Lieuwen was Buffalo’s sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2011 draft.

The Sabres also announced that they have loaned defenseman Jake McCabe and goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans (AHL).

McCabe was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, while Ullmark is being activated off I.R. after having double hip surgery during the off-season.



Chara ‘doubtful’ for game against rival Canadiens

Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara
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It looks like the Boston Bruins will be without their captain again on Saturday night.

Head coach Claude Julien told members of the media that Zdeno Chara is considered doubtful for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Chara suffered an upper-body injury during the preseason and he’s already been forced to miss Boston’s season opening loss to the Jets.

Per CSN, Chara says he’s improving but he won’t return to the lineup until he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.

“Every area of the injury is improving,” said Chara. “Hopefully it’s not long before I’m free of any kind of discomfort. That’s what we’re doing right now…we’re being patient. For sure you don’t want to come back, and be half of what you are…and basically hurting yourself and the team. And you’re putting yourself in a position where you could be missing more time. At this time of the season, I think it’s important to be as close as you can be to 100 percent.”

Based on the number of defensive mistakes they committed on Thursday, the Bruins need Chara back as soon as possible: