Saying he's never felt so upset or frustrated in his entire life, Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green finally felt up to speaking publicly about his team being eliminated in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"I was so upset and frustrated and angry that I felt like if I was to speak with the media I would say the wrong things," Green said. "I needed some time to cool down. I haven't been that angry about something in my whole life."
Green had just 3 assists and a plus-1 rating in the seven-game loss to the Montreal Canadiens. It was a surprising turn for a player who led all NHL defensemen in the regular season with 19 goals and 76 points.
However, Green admitted to allowing criticism over the team's supposed lack of defensive ability to creep into his game and affect how he played.
"I think mentally I was preparing myself for the playoffs to play strong defensively," he said. "When all season you're an offensive-minded player and you get criticized about your defensive play, you adjust to become that complete player. Going into the playoffs I wanted to play strong defensively. Maybe that (hurt) my offense."
A wrist injury he suffered April 3 in Columbus also didn't help. It wasn't bad enough to necessitate any kind of surgery, but it's bad enough to keep him from playing for Canada at the World Championships later this month.
However, Green wasn't about to make excuses for either his poor play or the team's.
"In the playoffs we need to play a full 60 minutes and in a few of the games we came out slow in the first 10-15 minutes and they took advantage of that," he said. "With that happening, and us needing to come back and score goals, we ran into a hot goaltender that played well and we couldn't score."
Green added that when the Canadiens were able to blunt the Caps' vaunted power play, it affected the team in all phases of the game.
"The thing with us is we relied so much on our power play the whole season. Being 25 percent the last 2 1/2 years, things didn't work out. We needed to adjust as players and as a unit and we didn't adjust," he said.
He also refused to join the chorus blaming coach Bruce Boudreau or his system for the Capitals' disappointment.
"My first year pro with Bruce we won a championship (in the AHL) and we were under the same system we play now," said Green. "The system we play now made us the No. 1 team during the regular season. The things that were criticized about our team during the regular season was completely different than what happened in playoffs.
"We scored goals, and they would say we score goals and that's great, but we couldn't play a defensive game. But in the playoffs we played a better defensive game, we limited them to 15, 16 shots a game and not scoring. It doesn’t really touch base with the whole sense of things with criticizing the system. It's a great system to play -- it works.
"Unfortunately we couldn't score goals this time. That's mentally what got into our heads. We couldn't score, when all year we could score whenever we needed a goal."
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