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Stanley Cup Final

Green working way back; hasn't spoken to Boudreau

Wednesday, 11.30.2011 / 12:18 PM / NHL Insider

By Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Mike Green is back to skating regularly before practice, but his return to the Washington Capitals from a groin injury remains a mystery.

Green was on the ice before the Capitals' practice Wednesday morning, just as he was Monday morning before coach Dale Hunter's first workout with the club.

The All-Star defenseman hasn't played since getting hit in the corner during a game Nov. 11 at New Jersey.

"Right now I'm just able to get out there and skate a little bit," Green said. "I'm not exerting myself too hard yet, but I'm progressing better each day and that's all that matters."

"It's a new chapter now, but obviously he was a great coach. Unfortunately we weren't responding here in the last couple months. I think it was a necessary thing, but we're definitely happy to have Dale here. He seems like an honest guy, a strict guy. That seems to be maybe what we need for guys to respond properly." -- Mike Green, on Bruce Boudreau's firing

That game against the Devils was Green's first back after missing three weeks with a twisted right ankle. Former Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said that night in Newark, N.J., that Green's latest injury was a "day-to-day thing, not a three-week, day-to-day thing," but he was less optimistic about Green's prognosis the next morning.

The Capitals are 8-0-0 this season when Green plays, and 4-10-1 when he doesn't.

"I'd like to be back tomorrow, but that's not going to happen," Green said. "Like George (McPhee, Capitals GM) said, it is just kind of a day-to-day thing -- no set time schedule. It is just me getting back into shape and making sure that I'm 100-percent healthy, if not 90 percent at least.

"I've been out there skating and obviously starting and stopping, but as far as game shape and being explosive, I still have some strengthening to do. Who knows how long that is going to take."

Green said he has not spoken to Boudreau since he was dismissed Monday. Of all the players Boudreau helped blossom with the Capitals, Green's career flourished the most.

Mike Green
Defense - WSH
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 3 | PTS: 6
SOG: 18 | +/-: 1
The defenseman was considered a solid prospect, but not an elite one before Boudreau arrived. He had six goals and nine assists in 104 NHL games with Glen Hanlon as Capitals coach, but he scored the first goal of Boudreau's tenure 2:27 into the new coach's first game and became the top offensive defenseman in hockey.

Green was a two-time Norris Trophy finalist under Boudreau, totaling 76 goals and 153 assists in 270 games. He has struggled with injuries the past two seasons, but his value to the Capitals is pretty clear in the team's win-loss record with and without him this season.

"No, I haven't actually (talked to him)," Green said. "It's a new chapter now, but obviously he was a great coach. Unfortunately we weren't responding here in the last couple months. I think it (Boudreau's firing) was a necessary thing, but we're definitely happy to have Dale here. He seems like an honest guy, a strict guy. That seems to be maybe what we need for guys to respond properly."

It's hard to walk into that locker room and look those guys in the eye when they've played -- clearly, that was our best game we've played in the series -- and I thought we deserved a better fate tonight.

— Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper on his team's 3-2 loss to the Canadiens in Game 3 on Sunday