Photo credit: Evan Vucci
Alex Ovechkin is doing well lately, in case you haven’t heard. Rejuvenated by his switch to right wing and the power play of new head coach Adam Oates, Ovi has the magic we saw a few years ago, something that had almost disappeared in the last two seasons. It looks like 2009 for someone else too: Mike Green. The 27-year-old defenseman insists, though, that the narrative du jour doesn’t apply to him — or Ovechkin. These are not the old days, but new ones.
“Everyone keeps asking us if we’re back to the old days, but I think we just matured and evolved,” Green told me. “We’ve had to kind of change our game and evolve as players. The other teams had figured out our little schemes before and we had to adapt to it — it just took time.”
The Calgary native scored just 11 goals his last two (oft-injured) years. He has nine this season, including six in his last eight games. The latter set of numbers, of course, are more fitting for guy making $6 million dollars a year. Green attributes his resurgence simply to being healthy — he’s missed tons of time the past few seasons with concussions and groin problems. While he’s been better this year, Green still was out of the the lineup for almost a month with yet another groin injury. Since, coming back towards the end of March, Green has been Washington’s best defenseman.
“When you’re healthy, it helps it a lot,” he said.
Thursday, he continued his recent hotness with a vintage goal: taking the pass at top of the circles, skating in, and unleashing a bullet past the netminder, in this case Justin Peters. Green’s second period tally against the Hurricanes gave Washington a 2-1 lead in a game that looked lost just 10 minutes in.
Despite missing 11 of the Capitals’ 38 games, Green is just one tally behind Montreal’s PK Subban for the NHL lead in goals by a defenseman, a title he held from 2008-10.
“We do expect that out of him,” Oates said of his success. “His health is a big part.”
If his scoring prowess is straight out of last decade, so is his hair. Early this month, Greenie went back to his ol’ not much on the sides and a whole bunch of stuff happening up top look after a long absence. The goals kept coming and so did the jokes on Twitter — it was the hair, the hair! Green thinks that’s stupid. But he does look better.
“Just to be a little more professional,” Green said of his reasoning for the chop. “My hair was getting a little too long.”