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Posted at 5:56 PM ET, 02/ 6/2011

Mike Green says he's 'fine now' after getting hit with puck in Caps' win against Pens

By Katie Carrera

The Capitals played a complete 60-minute game for the second time in three nights and earned a 3-0 victory over arch nemesis Pittsburgh Sunday afternoon to climb to 68 points. Even without the presence of Penguins stars Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Evgeni Malkin (torn ACL and MCL) this contest had all the physical bite and snarl of the usual meetings between the two teams.

First, though, defenseman Mike Green told reporters afterward he was fine despite not returning to the contest after he was struck in the head by a Brooks Orpik slap shot. Green had several rows of stitches near his right ear, where the puck hit him late in the first period, and Coach Bruce Boudreau said the defensemen would be listed as day-to-day.

"It's just a cut," Green said. "Any time you get hit in the head you're a little bit woozy....It happened so quick, it was just ringing a little bit, but once it went away I was fine. I was just a little unbalanced when I came off the ice but I'm fine now."

Said Boudreau: "You're always concerned. There's a lot of stitches in the ear, he's day-to-day. He's got a little bit of a headache right now. You get hit in the head with the puck and you're gonna have a headache. We'll re-evaluate him tomorrow."

We'll have to see how much Green takes part in practice tomorrow but the fact that he spoke to reporters after the game is at least a positive sign, if a small one.

--With his tally against the Penguins, Brooks Laich scored goals in consecutive games for the first time this season since the first two games of the year back in October. His goal was one created by a strong forecheck and cycle by the entire line of Laich, Mathieu Perreault and Jay Beagle.

That the Capitals were so willing to stick to the plan of dumping the puck and generating offense off of winning battles along the boards and in the corners -- much like they did in Tampa on Friday -- for another game has the players regaining some of their confidence.

"I think we're starting to get our identity back," Laich said "We're a committed group right now. The coaching staff lays out a great game plan for us, makes it easy to play... It was a challenge for us [to get back on track]. Even after this, the next 10 games aren't easy. The next two or three weeks can really sway our season."

Said Matt Hendricks: "I think with winning comes confidence, and I think we've lacked that the last maybe even a month -- more than that, actually. Where [reporters] keep asking us about not scoring goals and things like that and when we're scoring, we're winning games and players get their confidence and we start to feel that confidence as a group."

--With his primary assist on Laich's goal, John Erskine recorded his 10th point of the season -- a new career high in points for the Caps defenseman.

--Semyon Varlamov was sick, so the Capitals started Michal Neuvirth for the first time since Jan. 18, which was the night he was unable to finish the game in Philadelphia. Neuvirth wasn't tested too much early, but as the Penguins pressed he had a few key stops that prevented Pittsburgh from getting back into the game and finished with 22 saves for the second shutout of his NHL career.

Colleague Tracee Hamilton has more on Neuvirth in her column for Monday's paper.

--Marcus Johansson's pretty backhand tally in the second period made him the first rookie to score a shorthanded goal for the Capitals since Alex Ovechkin did so in 2005-06. It's been a bit of an up-and-down year for Johansson, as is to be expected for a rookie center playing his first season in North America, but he had one of his better games against the Penguins Sunday.

"We see flashes of this every few games and when he's on, he's really good," Boudreau said. "He was on tonight and he provided the spark for that whole line."

--With the Capitals down to five defensemen for the final two periods after Green was hit by the puck, John Carlson recorded a career-high 27 minutes 46 seconds of ice time. He ranks second in the league among rookies in ice time per game.

--If somehow you managed to miss Matt Cooke's knee-on-knee hit on Alex Ovechkin and Boudreau's unfiltered reaction to it, check out my earlier post with comments from Boudreau, Cooke and Penguins Coach Dan Bylsma.

--Check out photos from the win here.

By Katie Carrera  | February 6, 2011; 5:56 PM ET
Categories:  Mike Green, Pittsburgh Penguins  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Bruce Boudreau sounds off on Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke
Next: Statistical analysis: Is Jason Chimera the solution for the top line?


Good news that he's ok. Scary stuff.

Last two wins, very nice. Pittsburgh is gonna struggle for a while if Crosby stays out.

Posted by: underpants2 | February 6, 2011 6:11 PM | Report abuse

in real time, the knee to knee contact between cooke and ovi - looked a lot like ovi and gonchar.
my first impression was cooke had ovi lined up and ovi made a move to avoid the contact.
with benefit of slo-mo - it would appear that cooke had time to avoid the knee on knee. it didn't look like he extended his leg to ensure contact.

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | February 6, 2011 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Long story short, if Steckel has to have some staged fight over that Crosby garbage then Matt Cooke needs a beatdown.

Posted by: CF11555 | February 6, 2011 4:38 PM

That's about right.

Posted by: Rhino40 | February 6, 2011 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Bäckis the Beast!

Steckel the Destruc-tor®!!

Le Brooksi™!!!


Great game, gentlemen!

Posted by: Rhino40 | February 6, 2011 7:02 PM | Report abuse

As far as how calm, cool, collected, and businesslike Bylsma was please apply common sense. The Pens were a long winning streak until the end of episode three while the Capitals were of course in their worst stretch in 3 years. Easy to remain calm and businesslike when you are winning.

Posted by: fanohock1 | February 6, 2011 5:29 PM

@fanohock1: Excellent point. While I have been concerned about how things were going this late in the season, I'm certainly not from the torch-and-pitchfork crowd....Funny, we haven't heard from those guys since...oh, Friday night, was it? Heh-heh...

Posted by: Rhino40 | February 6, 2011 7:10 PM | Report abuse

@those who would accuse Ovie of "faking" after the Cooke hit:
Even though --strictly speaking--It may not have been literally knee-on-knee (Now before everyonme else jumps on me, read my entire post!), but rather Cooke's knee on Ovechkin's quad.

Have you ever been on the receiving end of such a hit? I have.

Although I started much too late in life to be in high level player, I pride myself on my stubborness and compete level in game situations--good qualities for a defenseman. So I'm always anxious to get back on the ice/floor for my shift even if I'm bleeding (which has happened more than a couple of times).

That said, I can tell you that the knee I took to my left thigh hurt like a $0noF@8i+c# even through the adrenaline, and after the game I wondered when-or if I was gong to be able to walk normally again. Granted an actual knee-on-knee can be devastating which is why it's illegal--all I'm saying is:

Given that those guys were both moving faster than I am capable of skating, Ovie's pain must have been even far, far worse. I seriously doubt that there was any "faking" whatsoever. Anyone who thinks Ovie really is a "soft" player needs to get their head examined. What, does he have to get shot with a high-powered rifle and then keep skating before you're satisfied? Honestly, I hope he'll be OK.

Matt Cooke, A K A Sean Avery-Lite.

Orpik, by contrast, showed unexpected class asking after Greener, proving that there is indeed a difference between a cheap-shot artist and a sociopath.

Posted by: Rhino40 | February 6, 2011 7:11 PM | Report abuse

I am encouraged by these last 2 games.

And I loved seeing the Flower get picked by the team with the "shaky" goalie.

lets go packers

Posted by: bluejeener1 | February 6, 2011 7:20 PM | Report abuse

"Woozy", "ringing" and "unbalanced" are NOT to be tossed off lightly, those are symptoms of brain injury. Do that often enough and you end up with CTE (Chronic Trauma Encephalopathy) and early dementia. Mike needs to be watched closely for signs of concussion. I'm glad he wasn't allowed to return today, we will need him later. Much as I love hockey and the Caps I want all of our players to have full lives after they hang up their skates.

Posted by: coryvreckan | February 6, 2011 7:32 PM | Report abuse

With the Caps' resurgence, I did a bit of research on possible 2C trades. I'd appreciate comments from any of you who watch these guys play much. My criteria were - veteran, leadership/proven winner, not too much remaining contract obligation (perfereably just this year), and reasonable skill level. I don't see the Caps making a very big deal and giving up a lot of young talent/picks for a star. A total of 19 centers fit the criteria to varying degrees.

Not surprisingly, Jason Arnott (NJD) seems to be the top pick. A skilled guy, a moose (Steckel sized), pretty good on face-offs, would look good with Semin and Fehr. He will hit, but not really a big hitter.

My second choice would be John Madden (Minn.) Not as big or skilled as Arnott, but a great defender and has great playoff experirence. Would make a good PK even better. Maybe not the ideal skill level to center Semin, but at worst he could help solidify a checking line for the playoffs.

In the next level I had Jiri Hudler (Wings) and Michael Handzus (Kings). Hudler has a decent skill level and good experience with the Wings winning a Cup. Not much size though and doesn't take many face-offs. Handzus is bigger, a good all-around player. It's not that either team wants to trade these guys, but they are not really core players so I assume they could be had for the right price.

More questionable are Tim Connolly (Buffalo) and Jeff Halpern (Habs). Connolly's main issue is a terrible history of injuries. Halpern burned his bridges in DC and I suspect the Habs aren't anxious to trade him, so that looks like a long shot.

If I were the Devils, I would ask for Kuznetsov for Arnott. That's a lot to pay for a 36 yo center. Madden would be cheaper and would help defensively, but isn't really the ideal 2C.

Posted by: zmega | February 6, 2011 7:50 PM | Report abuse

amega: You left out the best option: A Vermette. And sorry but Kuznetsov is untouchable.

Posted by: bukaki23 | February 6, 2011 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Kuznetsov is off the table. Arnott will cost a 2nd rounder, no more.

Posted by: underpants2 | February 6, 2011 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Vermette is signed for 4 more years I think. That would block opportunities for Kuznetsov and Eakin. And what would the cost be for a player in his prime who is a pretty good scorer?

Posted by: zmega | February 6, 2011 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Arnott is not the answer....big and good in front on the net, but not a great passer or defender. Not to mention he's 36 and seen better days. No one has mentioned it, but Zubrus is only 32 and would appear to be a better two way player. He's also proven he can play with Ovechkin, Semin, and others from his earlier run in D.C. If N.J. is looking to unload salary, either Arnott or Zubrus could be had for a 2nd round draft pick.

Glad to hear that Mike Green was feeling fine after the game but "woozy" and a "headache" sound like concussion symptoms to me. It's like a baseball player being hit with a 90+ mph fast ball in the head and they usually sit out a few games or a week. I hope the Caps are cautious with Green even if it means he doesn't play for a couple of weeks.

Posted by: wizfan89 | February 6, 2011 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Great two games in a row for the Caps. Maybe they are finally buying into a defense first system that stymies and frustrates the opposition. I'm not a believer yet with BB's track record in the playoffs, but I put the torch and pitchfork back in the garage for a bit.

As for trading for a 2C, find an aging vet who wants one more Cup run stuck in a basement dweller: EDM, NYI, FLA, MINN, STLB, NJD, SENS, TML, CBJ. Trade a pick or prospect for a legit 2C with fire in his belly stuck on a moribund loser. Look at what Feds did here a couple of years ago. Don't pull a Snyder trade for some pampered joke who had a good year at some point or a big name or complete has-been.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | February 6, 2011 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Zubrus has 2 more years at $3.4M. Seems like too much of a commitment for a team with young centers coming up through the ranks.

Posted by: zmega | February 6, 2011 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Just checking to see if this post goes through...if not, does that mean I have been blacklisted or something?

Posted by: vermontcaps | February 6, 2011 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Tough day for Steel Town.

Posted by: zmega | February 6, 2011 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Congrats to the Pack, they're a living proof that socialism does work.

We should try that here as well, let's buy the Caps and let's run the team ourselves!

Posted by: joek443 | February 6, 2011 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Good night Pittsburgh. Pleasant dreams.

Posted by: underpants2 | February 6, 2011 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Here's a fun tool. Just remember if you want a player the other gm going to make you pay dear for him

Posted by: sporttraveler | February 6, 2011 10:34 PM | Report abuse

The only thing that would have made my day better is if I had won my football pool. Oh well, 2 out of 3 isn't bad.

Posted by: FloridaCapsFan | February 6, 2011 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Wow-I know humility and reflection are not personality traits known by Pittsburgh fans but today has got to be as close as they will come to either.

BTW, a Penguins fan who sat behind me at the game today blamed Ovechkin for the knee-on-knee collision with Cooke and thought the call for a penalty was incorrect. Unbelievable!

Posted by: AADCDERM | February 6, 2011 11:10 PM | Report abuse

The ONLY thing that could have made this day better is if I could have caught a flight to Dallas after the Caps game so that I could have watched the Yinzers exiting Jerry-land in tears.

Posted by: MadCap1 | February 6, 2011 11:40 PM | Report abuse

OK, I'm going to be the only person on here to defend Matt Cooke.

No, I don't defend the hit on Ovi.

But Cooke is a type of player the Caps need. Grit and sandpaper. Caps could have kept him in 08-09 for $1.2M. That was a big mistake.

Excellent day at the beach and then return to watch DVR of game. Best two-game stretch since 12/28 and 1/1.

Can the Caps play 60 mins every game? Let's hope.

Here's an interesting stat for you: MaJo, Perreault and Steckel COMBINED are on a pace for 51 pts this year. As way of comparison, BMo scored like 41 last year HIMSELF and he was bemoaned as way inadequate as a #2C. Meanwhile, our #2, 3 and 4 Cs combined aren't even a #2C.

The going price for Arnott based on what teams pay is a #2 pick. Except we don't have one (the infamous Corvo deal). I would never give up Kuznetzov unless you were getting a solid #2 center with a good contract and at least two full years to go. Like, you would give Kuzzie to Pitt for Staal. That would work, except they wouldn't do it.

Caps can get Arnott by trading 1st and 4th pick and the Devils give us Arnott and their #2.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | February 7, 2011 12:27 AM | Report abuse

Oh, one more thing: Even when the Caps were playing half-hearted hockey throughout January, the defense was pretty good. I'm going to attribute this to three players who really stepped up. Actually, two who stepped up - Erskine and Alzner - and one who stepped in - Hannan.

Maybe someone who watches closer than I do can give some better commentary, but I pointed out soon after Hannan came aboard that Alzner was picking up some of his tracks (paw to the jaw).

The one defenseman who seems to be struggling is Schultz, but it's hard to tell because none of them are making mistakes.

Also props to Laich and Knuble, both of whom have excelled on the PK. Every game there's a deflection or some really good play on the PK to stop a goals and I say, "Who was that?" and my daughter says, "It was Laich." Two straight games with goals for Laich. He CAN be a #2 wing, he had 59 pts last year. Caps need him to be consistent on not just D but O. Tonight he went to the net. Walked the walk. And he scored.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | February 7, 2011 12:45 AM | Report abuse

Very good couple of games over the weekend against two playoff bound teams but the jury is still out IMO. When tehy can tie five or six of these efforts together in a row I will think they are on track, hopefully it will happen.

Should be a suspesion for Cooke with his track record but I'm sure Campbell will make the "Penguin exception" once more, if that would have been Ovie throwing the hit he would be sitting three games.

Great to see Backs attempt to stand up for a teammate, these guys may be coming together beofre our eyes which would certainly make me extremely happy.

Posted by: PhilR | February 7, 2011 7:45 AM | Report abuse

@vermontcaps -I had a post "quarantined" as well with no idea why. Don't take it personally.

Congrats on JE4 with the career high in points this season. I've always liked the way he played and am glad he's having success this year.

Posted by: jwash4472 | February 7, 2011 9:04 AM | Report abuse

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