Capitals defenseman Mike Green knows what can happen when a player tries to return too soon from a groin injury. Last season he saw his season reduced to 32 games because a groin injury led to surgery to repair a sports hernia.
That’s why Green will be a game-time decision tonight when the Capitals play the first of back-to-back home games against the New Jersey Devils.
“It’s frustrating,” Green told reporters following Thursday’s morning skate at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “But you’ve got to be smart. I’ve been through this before, so I know what to do and what not to do. I’ll take it day by day and hopefully I’ll feel good enough to go tonight.”
Green, who suffered his injury one week ago in the Caps’ win in TampaBay, has refrained from taking any explosive strides in his last two days on the ice.
“I need to be up in the play, and when you don’t have that explosion, you’re not going to be very effective,” he said.
Capitals coach Adam Oates said he would consider dressing seven defensemen against the Devils, which would give him the chance to monitor Green as the game unfolds. Ultimately, he wants Green to make the decision that is best for himself and his team.
"He's a veteran," Oates said. "It's going to be his call. It's an injury where when you warm up the intensity of the game hits you. Maybe it improves just enough that you feel you can go."
If that happens, look for Tom Poti to be the seventh blue liner.
Green said he’s been feeling better each day and has learned throughout his career that patience is often the best medicine with muscle injuries.
“I think that’s the biggest thing, mentally,” he said. “Any injury takes time and the more patient you can be the better off you’ll be and in the end you’ll do the right things to get back on the ice.”
Forward Marcus Johansson, sidelined with an upper body injury that has nagged him throughout most of the season, skated with the club on Thursday but there is no timetable for his return to the lineup.
“I’m out right now,” he said. “And if it happens again I might be out for a long time.”