As bad as the injury news has been for the Buffalo Sabres, the Washington Capitals have one player on the sideline who might trump a whole bunch of injured Sabres put together. Defenseman Mike Green has missed the last 20 games due to a groin injury. He won't play tonight against the Sabres and even though he was back on the ice this week, there is no timetable for his return.
One of the top offensive defensemen in the NHL, Green has been fighting the injury bug for quite sometime. He's appeared in just 8 games this season and was limited to 49 last season. The groin injury joins a long list of ailments that includes a shoulder, knee, hip flexor, a pair of concussions and a twisted ankle. The only time the 26 year old Green has played a full season was the 2007-2008 campaign.
When he's on the ice, the Caps are a different team. In the 3 season stretch from 2007 to 2010, Green totaled 68 goals and 137 points. In the 07-08 season, Green led all NHL defensemen in goals, the youngest player to do that since Paul Coffey in 1989. In 08-09 he fired in 31 goals in only 68 games, the most goals by a blueliner in 16 years. It earned him a spot on the NHL's 1st Team All Star and a runner up finish in the Norris Trophy voting. He repeated that 2nd place finish for the Norris in 2010.
In addition to eating up ice time, average of 25 minutes a game, Green is the man who makes the Caps power play go, not Alexander Ovechkin. With one of the best power play quarterbacks in the league, Washington had the top rated man advantage success rate in the league last season, 2nd best the year before that and 9th in 2008. This season the Caps power play is down in 19th place. Green is in the final year of a 4 year, $21 million deal and will be a restricted free agent next summer.