Mike Green, Caron Butler and the Zone
Mike Green and Caron Butler have both ventured into that strange space called The Zone in recent days. Green scores basically every game, and is on the best scoring streak for a defenseman since Ray Bourque in '84. Butler went for 15 in less than four minutes Sunday night, without missing a shot, while still recovering from the flu. I'll likely have more on this later, but for now, here are their thoughts on being Zone Perfect.
"It felt like that a lot over the course of the last four years," Butler said today. "It was a good feeling to get that back."
"Now because things have been going well I try not to do too much, because as soon as you try to do too much, then it doesn't work out," Green said, also today. "So let the opportunities come, and take advantage of them when they're there."
"You just know everything's gonna go in," Butler said of the feeling. "You know. Honestly, you just feel like whatever you throw up there, it's pretty much good."
"Maybe a little bit," Green said, when I asked if his Zone was similar to a basketball Zone. "I mean, it just seems like when I get opportunities now, I'm seeing the net well and able to hit corners."
Green, of course, chucked a puck something like 165 feet Saturday night to get an empty netter; I asked how often he'd hit the net from that distance on an empty sheet of ice.
"Probably like 10 percent chance that I'd hit that, by myself, trying to do it," he said. "I didn't try to do that. I was trying to get the puck out of the zone. I just got lucky that it hit the goal. I threw it and then remembered that there's no goalie in the net, and it wasn't a very hard shot, so slowly, slowly, slowly,, and then I seen it kind of curve. And I was jacked, yeah, especially just because it was so intense with them being on the power play and them being one goal behind."
I asked Caron whether he could have scored from half-court the way he was feeling Sunday night.
"It would have went in, definitely," he said. "If not, it would have went in and out and in, just rattled and stayed on the rim for a long time."
"I think it's just this part of the season, where you finally feel used to your gear, you finally feel used to playing, and you know where to go without even looking," Green said of his hot streak. "It just happens. It's about that time of the year when you start to feel good, which is crazy, because we've already been playing for four months."
"I've been like that a couple times," Butler said. "One of the times I felt like that once was in Orlando, scored the 21 in the quarter. I just felt unconscious. A couple times in games, you go on a streak, you hit seven or eight shots, you just feel like you've got a nice rhythm and you try to ride that thing out. Man, you just feel like everything you throw up there is going in. I don't get into 'rim look huge, I could have threw it in the ocean it was that big.' It's just a nice rhythm, you just get flowing and it's a good feeling. Nothing like it. As bad as I felt, it was like my therapy."
Green was being followed around Saturday night by the NHL Network for a Day-in-the-Life segment; I asked if his performance jazzed up the producers.
"I guess so," Green said. I think they were more excited about our little event before the game, when me and Ovi were driving in a cart and we almost crashed into the door. You'll see it. We were just driving this little golf cart thing, we almost took our heads off. Actually, Ovi did, he almost killed me."
For Ovi's part, he wasn't talking about golf carts.
"I think he feels pretty comfortable right now," Ovechkin said of Green. "What I can say more about him? He's still the same Mike Green like he was two days ago and three days ago. He wants to score, he wants to win and he wants to compete all the time....The [opposition] start to realize if they give him chance to score goal, to shoot the puck, it can be dangerous. So they start cheating on him, start to watch him all the time. And it's good for us, it open more space to shoot the puck, to open for everybody."
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