Mike Green: 2013-14 Season Review

Oh boy. Mike Green. Is there any more polarizing figure to Caps fans? Is he too soft for the NHL? Is Muscle Milk any good?

The answer to all three questions is No. I think.

By the Numbers

70 Games played
22.2 Average time on ice per game
9 Goals
29 Assists
51.7% Shot attempt percentage during 5v5
44.8% Goal percentage during 5v5
6.9% On-ice shooting percentage during 5v5
91.4% On-ice saving percentage during 5v5

Peter’s Take

Next to Alex Ovechkin, there may be no player on the Caps as divisive as Michael Green. Years ago, he was a Norris candidate and the team’s go-to offensive defenseman. But he hasn’t played a full season in six years (when he was 22), and his play without the puck has sent some observers into conniption fits.

I get it; I really do. I found Mike Green’s defense on odd-man rushes (which were way too common under Oates) to be embarrassing. When the Caps don’t have the puck, Green seems all too fallible. Green’s on-ice goal ratio was eight points below his on-ice shot-attempt percentage– I suspect there was more than just bad luck at play there.

The biggest problem, in my perspective, is not that Green’s style of play has changed, it’s just how that play has been apportioned. Green was wizardly conducting offense four seasons ago because the Caps had the puck so much more. Now that they’re outpossessed, the flaws that were always present in Green’s game seem way more obvious and distressing.

But Green was still the very best full-time (ish) player when it came to tilting the ice in the Caps’ favor this year, bucking to a large degree that Oates Effect that depressed everyone’s stats. And on the Caps’ truly electric power play (see, Adam? I can be nice.), Green was pivotal. Like, literally pivotal.

But with one year left on his contract, a history of injuries, and a dubious reputation as a defensive liability, is Green long for Washington? My guess: Yes. The Caps just don’t have the depth to let him go, and he– like Ovi– is the sort of player who may soar under an offensive renaissance.

Mikey on RMNB

In Pictures

It’s almost like players try extra hard to hit Green along the boards.

Green’s 100th career goal was a beaut.

LOL @ Tim Thomas forever

Wow, we have a crap ton of Mike Green highlight GIFs. *Gasp* Is it possible that Green might be… jokes?!

And my favorite: Gopher Green, popping his head up for all of eternity.

Your Turn

I’ll keep this simple: Green’s contract is up next season. Do you think he’ll be back after that? Do you think he should? (Those are two separate questions, so gimme two answers. And show your work.)

Read more: Japers Rink, Peerless

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  • Rob W.

    Oh the enigma that is Mike Green, frustrating to watch at times and also has moments of brilliance, kind of like my golf game. I have been really optimistic lately in that I really think a lot of guys will bounce back next season now that Calle wont be behind the bench.

  • Barry

    I still think Green will come back in a big way, as soon as we can play the puck for more than just a power play’s length of time. I always thought we was solid when he had the third line in front of him, my hopes are that next year will be the year of #52 on the blue line.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    Until the Caps have more depth on defense, I agree with Peter, moving him would likely cause more problems that it would fix. And for a “down year,” he led the team in possession.

    I’m kind of sick of everybody ragging on the guy. He plays a lot better defense than a lot of people give him credit for and he eats big minutes. He deserves better from fans, but such is life.

  • goph94

    Would it be fair to say the key to getting the most out of Green, or for the rest of the team for that matter, is to get a coach who puts some thought into optimal usage of the players? In that case, I’d love to see someone like Tom Renney, who not only seemed to be rather meticulous about matching lines, managing zone starts, etc, while having a fair amount of experience as an NHL coach.

  • Shaun Phillips

    Defense on Caps is like goalie in Detroit, no respect. Osgood always heard crap and now Howard does (despite both being well above avg).

  • RedRockingElla

    Mike Green seems to always be the one all fans point at when we lose yet gets none of the credit when we win. I feel bad for him. I think he can be an asset to the Caps if he can stay healthy. So my answers are both YES. He will come back, as he should, if nothing else to prove the haters why he was once nominated for a Norris. He can be great, and I really hope next year he will be.

  • Lawrence

    Love Greenie. If only we had a #1 D that was more defensive that could let Green make use of that talent, he has been asked to do too many things that isn’t his forte. Our roster on the back-end would go from worst to one of the bests in the league by just adding one player. I get what you are saying Peter, that in an offensive system he will be much better and I agree, but I just don’t think its wise to have him as our #1, in a league that gets more defensive with clutch and grab coming back. How we acquire a new #1? No idea, but trading Green might be the only way for that to happen and I think with our roster he could be expendable for that.

  • SamWow Carroll

    As a Green jersey owner, I have been booed by Caps “fans” at home games. The hate for the one of the best three D-men on the team is insane, but it’s because people only stare at the start of the Tampa Bay game where Ovi netted four goals to win in the SO.

    Still can’t believe I got booed.

  • Steven Lemmeyer

    I’ve always made this comparison without ever actually breaking down the stats, so I suck, but I compare Green to Gonchar. I loved Gonchar when he was going ‘Shoot puck, puck go in’ mode but hated him on defense. (This was child Steven watching Gonchar so I really have no idea how valid this comparison is) Green has those moments that you’re just like, “Gosh, you’re good at hockey”, but I hate him on defense. I think it is over-hyped, as you eluded, due to the fact that the Caps suck at defense and have for years.

  • Jon A

    First of all, I don’t think he’s too soft for the NHL. And I don’t think his style of play has changed either. Maybe that’s part of the problem as he gets older and the overall NHL style of play evolves across the league.

    I do think that he needs to either adjust his play or be used in a way that suits his style better. Or he needs to be paired with a “stay at home” D partner that will clear the slot and work harder in the Caps end, especially in the corners. I think he a pretty good offensive zone QB and brings an dangerous scoring element at his best.

    All that being said, I think he will be back. With the lack of depth and experience on the Caps blue line and lack of available d-men in the league, the Caps don’t have much choice. I can’t really decide if he SHOULD be back.

  • Peteo

    You could take the good with the bad if he didn’t have such an skewed cap number. If his leading salary digit were a 3 instead of a 6, I’m sure many of these raggers would be okay with holding their tongues. If he wants to take a pay cut to stay, sure he brings enough to the table to want him on a second pairing. Otherwise, the chorus will continue.

  • Steven Lemmeyer

    Yeah, but the Caps really do lack in defensive prowess. Your statement would be true about all the Caps fans who think goal-tending has been the issue and were clamoring for the likes of Ryan Miller and such.

  • Jon A

    I don’t think he plays bad defense all the time. I DO think he has too many “controller disconnected” moments and gets a little lazy in his own end.

    Plus, I think he gets all the negative attention for the Cap’s defensive problems (Which go way deeper than Green playing poorly or not) because he’s the highest profile D man on the team. He’s definitely the escape goat for the Caps D with fans and media.

  • Bugs Fire

    But you cannot fault Green for accepting what McPhee offered (and you don’t).

  • VeggieTart

    Okay, point taken. I’d like to see how he does under a coach who isn’t as stifling as Oates, who works WITH the players’ natural talents. And if things still aren’t looking up, pay cut or move him.

  • Simon Prickett

    Back – yes. Should be – no. Will this cause more problems short term? Yes. Will this cause people in the org to actually concentrate on fixing those problems – under a new GM I hope so.

  • Bugs Fire

    The most succinct defence of Mike Green was given by Alan May:

    “I believe when you have a guy that plays like Mike Green does, you unleash him and set him free.”

    Count me among Green’s apologists. He, among many others, was misused by coaches who believed that forcing roster into a system of play they have in mind is more important than maximizing player output. Particularly bad idea when the “system” and roster are one huge mismatch.

    To Peter’s question:

    1. It’s impossible to say what will happen here without knowing who the next GM and HC will be. Given business side of things it is likely that the most entertaining version of the future team will be chosen, which would mean that Green stays.

    2. Yes, he should stay, although as underhanded as it might be, management will take advantage of his misfortunes and try to negotiate lower salary. Unless Caps are headed into “defence-first land”, and then Green himself should and will run away as fast as he could. And make no mistake – NHL coaches are smarter than fans, and quite a few would love Mike on their roster. Detroit, Montreal, Anaheim all look like good matches for his skill set.

  • Barrett

    1. He will be back, at a lower salary in 2015-16.
    2. He should be, at a lower salary in 2015-16.

    In every sport the final year of a players contact is typically his best years. The injuries that have plagued Green, in my opinion, cannot label him as “soft”. Concussions can happen to the toughest players in this league and he battled those for a while after taking some pucks to the head a few years ago.

    The biggest off season priority for the next GM is to find him a solid defensive partner. I like Matt Greene from the LA Kings. His style of play is what Mike needs and the team needs. The endless possibilities of a nickname for Green & Greene is a bonus too.

  • Amykins

    I now have the theme from The Facts Of Life stuck in my head. Gah.

  • Guest

    Well I believe that Capitals Alumni Alan May said it best when he mentioned that with this core, with the same style of play there will never be a stanley cup in D.C. On that note, perhaps a move for Mike Green may be the thing that Washington needs to bring in some fresh faces on the blue-line, offering different looks and skill-sets. Obviously the Mike Green days are numbered with his dwindling numbers, injury plagued seasons, and a motor scooter that belongs in Canada…

  • Patrick Neimeyer

    Well I believe that Alan May was correct when he stated that with this core there will definitely not be a Stanley Cup in D.C. anytime soon. This leaves us to the Mike Green stay or go question. While his numbers were pathetic this season with i injury prone fore-checks, perhaps a move for Green will help not just bring in some fresh faces, but perhaps a career move for Mike himself…

  • Myan

    My main issue is Green this season was his decision making on defense. I keep going back to the Anaheim game at the end of the season when there was less than 5 seconds in the period and Green had the chance to ice the puck and send us into the locker room with a lead. Instead, he tried to make the cute play behind the net, coughed the puck up and Ducks scored. When I watch Green play, he has so many skills that make him an exceptional player but it seemed like he was prone to make at least one of these WTF mistakes a night. I don’t know how much of this poor decision making is emblematic of Oates’ rigid defensive system and the players’ general confusion, but if Green can eliminate these poor decisions from his game, I think we’ll see him hit his stride again.

  • Jack Soule

    You know, I am pretty sure, to Alan May’s credit, that Bobby Orr was given free reign with the puck and allowed to carry the puck up ice and get creative. It’s no wonder that Green declined after Boudreau left. It’s also a miracle he did as well as he did this year despite playing with AHLers.

  • Shaun Phillips
  • Matt Ashton

    A more interesting discussion would be are you happier with Green for one more year at 6.25 mil or Wideman at 5.25 until 2017. The better decision at the time was keeping Green 2.5 years younger, fragility only showing its ugly head, even though Wideman helped carry the 11-12 team into the playoffs when MG only played 30ish games. Also not locked into an offensive defenseman into his mid 30’s at 5-7% of cap space.

  • mvp099

    Even a struggling Mike Green is better than 90% of everyone else, IMO. He controls the puck well in the breakout and makes a huge difference on the point. I hope he is back. I want to see him here. He’s a, if not the, top D for the Caps.

  • Guest

    An exchange between Oates and Green in training camp

  • CapsFan

    Oates. “Greenie, you look bored.” Green, “I am so f’ing bored! D to D and up the boards.” Oates “That’s hockey.” Two people could not have been a worse fit, still Green is hard to rely on and I’ve never seen anyone take more hits when retrieving the puck, it is like he likes getting crushed, which would be OK if he was not so fragile with a history of concussions.

  • Im right

    Im sick of hearing that if we only had someone to play next to him crap, it’s a bullshit excuse for Green. At this point in his career he should be the guy that can be the anchor of a pairing and he is certainly being paid like a Top Dman. It’s very obvious that Green is not a top Dman and is well overpaid, he should be moved if he isn’t isn’t willing to extend and take a paycut to around 3 or 4 million dollars.

  • Sarah

    Has anybody here *tried* Muscle Milk?

  • yv

    The main problem with Green is that he lost his beautiful skating abilities when he could effortlessly glide on ice with his head up and not losing even for the moment his feeling of the puck. That has helped him to make precise passes and shots and to avoid bad hits and ensuing injuries. I think he lost this during Olympic break in 2010, when he was snubbed off the Team Canada. He decided to be a ‘better’ Dman during the break, put some muscles, but instead lost his gliding skating and ice vision. That was especially visible in PP, which MG Qbacked. And I think poor PP with a ‘lost’ Green was one of the main reason why stellar Caps lost to Habs that year. 1 goal in 33 attempts or 3.3% for the series and 0 in 14 in the decisive last 3 games compare to 25-26% during regular season. Even one extra PPG could push Caps further and might be to SC. After that, for two seasons Caps PP was poor, average unit with PP% around 15-17%. What Oates has achieved is that he has restored efficiency of Caps PP to those of BB times without relying on MG.
    If MG will somehow find back his gliding skating and ice vision he could be again a very effective Dman.

  • Anthony Elworthy/scrubversive

    I think we should be the Washington Enigma for a while, fits the perception of our team better -.-;

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    ew no

  • PC

    Regarding Green’s skating ability, I don’t think he lost anything. He is one of most fluid skating D-man on the Caps or elsewhere for that matter. Wasn’t an issue with the Oates system discouraging the D from skating with the puck? Just look at the gifs above or other season highlights for to see the dynamic wheels. Some defensive lapses aside, the positives outweigh the negatives for me.

  • Diller M

    I’m not sure that many people like regular milk, let alone the muscle variety

  • Diller M

    I totally agree and I think it was a GREAT sign that he came back effectively from his concussion scare this season. Put me in camp Greensquared

  • Diller M

    I think green is an easy target because he has been the leader of the D for so long. The odd man rush miscues I think have to do with the Oates tinkering, you could see him thinking on the ice and this conflicted with his hockey instincts. Green has not been historically bad in these situations, so I’ll blame Oates, because, why not? In an unrelated note, I REALLY hope the hurricanes hire Oates as HC.

  • Barrett

    Duncan Keith isn’t the player he is without Brent Seabrook. Drew Doughty, Dan Boyle, Brian Campbell were/are all dominant offensive defenseman when they are paired with solid stay-at-home type defenseman. Mike Green’s best years were when he was paired with Jeff Schultz who had a couple year span of showing himself capable of playing hockey under Boudreau.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I just bought my first carton of milk in maybe 8 years because I missed making my own mac and cheese.

  • Eric Schulz

    Also, if the system isn’t good for any type of player, you should rethink the system.
    To be fair, a lower salary isn’t REMOTELY underhanded. He was overpaid from the start. He was worth close to it, and he will get paid MUCH less this time around… but that’s because of his injury history more than him losing talent.

  • Eric Schulz

    Exactly. It’s the same thing with Ovechkin; they aren’t good at defense, but their offensive prowess MORE than makes up for it. It’s not fair to them that we don’t have players to cover for them. When you refuse to give them complementary players, you expose their weaknesses… if the other player on the BackstrOvie line was a guy like Konowalchuk… if Green’s partner was a guy like Joe Reekie…. we wouldn’t be noticed their flaws, we’d be heralding their play.

  • Eric Schulz

    Should he come back? Of course: he’s a dangerous player who removes our ceiling. With a top pair of Alzner – Carlson, we can stick Green on the 2nd pair (give him a partner more like Joe Reekie than Hillen or Carrick or some other small puck-mover), let him be the PP QB, and use him exactly as he should be utilized. With Orlov on the 3rd pair, and Schmidt waiting in the wings, we even have the firepower to get through the stretches when Green can’t play. In playing armchair GM, I can fix this roster pretty easily without moving Green the player, or Green the contract. I think we could even resign him for roughly the same amount and be okay. I wouldn’t, obviously… but his cap doesn’t really kill us.
    I’d say he should be getting paid about $3.5 million… I’d be okay with anything under $4.5 a year, probably. Since we have Alzner and Carlson for such a steal, I think it’s okay to overpay Green a tad in order to bolster the defense… given, of course, that we also add a legit partner for him… really, if he’s healthy, he maybe lives up to the contract, so it’s not necessarily a bad contract even if it seems like an overpay.

  • Diller M

    We used to buy milk and never drink it. Now with the kids they drink it all the time. But I only ever drink milk with cookies

  • Eric Schulz

    A) His contract isn’t preventing us from winning the Cup. With a few reasonable trades, I can give us a team that is a Cup front-runner, and Green’s on it. That’s the whole reason we care about salary… who cares if it’s too much? All that matters is if it prevents us from making the team better. It doesn’t.
    B) No player is perfect. The “if only we had somebody to play with him” “crap” is absolutely, 100% valid. Green is not a perfect player, but he’s possibly the best offensive defenseman in the league.. if you can’t find a way to utilize him, then you suck as a coach.
    C) Moving him isn’t a question of how good he is, or how much he is making. It’s about opportunity cost. If we can make the team better by moving him, I’m all for it… but I don’t think we can. No team is going to be willing to take a defenseman like him that is that expensive, that bad defensively, and as injury-prone as he has been, in exchange for a player that will actually make us better. It’s on us to build a team around him (and Ovechkin, and Backstrom, et al) that can win.
    (I just kind of ripped him, but I fully think he could get us a great package in return… if we were rebuilding. But we want to win now. You will rarely get a great package in return for a great talent if you are trying to win now. Why would a rebuilding team trade for a guy who will only make them better NOW? Why would a team going for it NOW give up a guy that could help US win now? They wouldn’t.)

  • RESmith

    It would be nice to see Green stay with the Caps for a few more seasons. With Carlson, Orlov, and hopefully Bowey in two seasons, the Caps could end up with a very mobile corps of defensemen that quickly move the puck up the ice in a short amount of time. With the right coach to utilizing that, the Caps should become a better possession team.

    Unfortunately, though I see a team willing to overpay him (i.e. Dennis Wideman) when he hits the market, I don’t have a lot of hope of the Caps be able to keep him beyond this year.

    I remember when we drafted Green and following him when he was with Saskatoon. He had it in him to be a Scott Nediermayer type of player, instead of the Paul Coffey mold everyone still wants to view him through, but it I wouldn’t disagree with someone if they said he is already too late in to his career to ever change or reach that. Maybe with the right coach or assistant…. He is still is good hockey player and he is able to move the puck out of the Caps’ end of the ice in a way that few other players can.

  • Rhino40

    Good point. Gonchar’s game 7 fumble to the Penguins in (??) comes to mind…he turned the puck over in his own end and Pens stuck the dagger in.

  • Rhino40

    …and the to-die-for berry cobbler (?) made this weekend by my lovely wife…

  • Rhino40

    Only trouble with the idea of a “” pairing is that Gatorade would sue for trademark infringement.

  • Steven Lemmeyer

    THAT is the exact moment that comes to my mind with Sir Sergei

  • Jonah

    Also we already have the “green line” maybe a “green(e)” dpair to go with them would be quite punny

  • deej

    Watching Mike Green play one-on-one against offensive opponents, in our zone, is where his poor play stands out to me. His vision and timing are far worse than they were early in his career, and the poor timing is giving opponents frequent physical advantages over him. He fails to excerpt consistent physical presence over his side of the defensive zone from a positioning standpoint.

    This was a particularly egregious example, but watch Kunitz beat him on this play. It wasn’t a remarkable play by Kunitz – it was Mike Green failing to see and anticipate the play developing, which happens consistently, and results in opponents getting small, but frequent, advantages on him in our zone.

    He does have other pluses for breakouts and play on the point, but I believe he’s a consistent liability in our defensive zone, and a primary contributor to our poor defensive play.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/crosby-kunitz-lead-penguins-past-013514604–nhl.html

  • deej

    I disagree that he plays better defense than he gets credit for. He too often gives up inside position to the net and frequently plays at a disadvantage because of poor anticipation – particularly against skilled opponents. Good defensemen can positionally dominate opponents on their side of the defensive zone and Mike Green’s ability to do so has declined over the past two seasons.

    I think his strong possession numbers are more representative of his strong breakout ability that excels when matched against weaker offensive opponents, but he wasn’t able to do so nearly as consistently against skilled and physical, playoff caliber opponents.

  • Dcsportsfan85

    Those two questions are incredibly difficult to answer IMO because I agree that under a different system Green can and has thrived. I still think he’s our best PP option as well. So should we keep him I don’t know it depends on who our next GM and coach are and if he fits their system.

    I think he should be brought back if he’s willing to take a fairly decent reduction in his cap hit (< or = $4MM). Green definitely still is a very valuable player but it all depends on in what system and at what cap hit to me.