How Mike Green's absence has affected the Capitals
Perhaps where Mike Green's absence over the better part of the last 13 days or so has been on the point on the power play, where the defenseman is usually a constant presence. Sunday in the 2-1 win over Buffalo, because there isn't any other real option to man the point with Green out, the Capitals used Alex Ovechkin for every second of their 7:31 on the power play and John Carlson for all but seven seconds of that time.
That type of situation makes Coach Bruce Boudreau a little more conscious of both Ovechkin's and Carlson's minutes. After the game in Buffalo, Boudreau said he tried to short-shift Ovechkin in the final 40 minutes and play Carlson on the penalty kill less in an effort to keep both fresh for Monday's game in Pittsburgh.
Both Ovechkin and Carlson know that with Green out it's up to them to patrol the point and help the Capitals maintain possession as the power play tries to find its footing again, and that they can make their own jobs and that amount of ice time easier if they keep the puck in the zone.
"You've got to go hard or else they'll just keep icing the puck," Carlson said. "If you're moving it good, you're moving around, you're not really expending too much energy. It's when you go down and back, down and back, that's when you start losing your energy so it's pretty easy to play two minutes if we're just snapping the puck around in the offensive zone and moving up and down just switching and whatnot. But you can't go down and back more than twice or else your legs are shot."
Both players joked this morning that the easiest way to give themselves a break on the power play would be to score, and while Washington's struggles with the man advantage are well-documented they do feel as though the unit is getting back on track, albeit slowly.
"I think whole road trip, we play good on power play," Ovechkin said. "We control the puck. If we have that kind of control situation, we haven't scored but it's OK, it's going to come... Last night first period we had four power plays and I was there; it was kind of funny and kind of hard situation for me because almost six minutes I was on the ice -- no breather, no nothing. I can take it. If we need it I'm going to be there and I'm going to do my best."
When Green returns, the point role on the power play will go back to a three-man rotation. After his tough bag skate at CONSOL Energy Center the defenseman said he's eying Friday's game against the New York Rangers.
Obviously, though, Green is missed in five-on-five and penalty killing situations as well. Even after missing five of the past six games, Green leads the Capitals in average ice time this season at 25:40 but Boudreau said he's pleased with the way the rest of the defense has stepped up to fill the void.
After only playing one game out of 17 prior to Feb. 14, Tyler Sloan has stepped in to play at least 11:56 and as much as 16:12 in the past four games and veteran Scott Hannan has played five consecutive games with at least 20 minutes of ice time -- his only such stretch since he was acquired from the Avalanche in early December.
Green's absence does change the style that the Capitals can play in any given game, though.
"The first challenge is you don't have that puck-moving defenseman that's as good as anybody, so now you're putting in a defenseman that's more of a defender than a puck mover," Boudreau said. "We have five left-handed D and one righty, but I think we have to play more of a defensive game because they don't get the pucks to the forwards as quick."
| February 21, 2011; 1:31 PM ET
Categories: Injuries, John Carlson, Mike Green, Scott Hannan
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