Caps defenseman Green: “I want to play more”

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Easing oneself into the lineup after major surgery is a pretty standard NHL routine.

That said, Mike Green wants none of it.

The Caps blueliner made his return to action in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Tampa — his first game since Jan. 17 — and was pleased with how his surgically repaired abdomen responded after 14:14 of ice time.

So please, in fact, that he asked head coach Dale Hunter for more ice time.

“Fourteen minutes felt like four minutes for me,” Green told NHL.com. “I told [Hunter] I want to play more, that I feel good, so we’ll see.”

Green said the sports hernia surgery corrected a longstanding issue with his skating stride and that he felt improvement “almost immediately” after going under the knife. As such, he wants to jump right back into a full-time role, likely due to Washington’s place in the Eastern Conference standings (10th place, 63 points.)

“For the longest time before the surgery, even though I wasn’t sore, I didn’t have my skating stride,” Green said. “I couldn’t skate as well as I used to.”

Hunter dressed seven defensemen for the Lighting game — Green, Dennis Wideman, Karl Alzner, Roman Hamrlik, Jeff Schultz, John Carlson and Dmitri Orlov — with Carlson (22:51) and Alzner (20:39) leading the way in terms of ice time. The Caps head coach said he might employ the same seven-man unit against Carolina tonight.