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Capitals' Trotz finding less is more with Mike Green

by Dan Rosen / NHL.com

Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz might have found the magic formula with defenseman Mike Green.

Less might very well be more.

Green enters the game Wednesday night against the Detroit Red Wings (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TVA, SN360) with eight points in seven games despite averaging approximately three fewer minutes of ice time than he played last season (19:50 vs. 22:43). He has played more than 20 minutes in two games.

That has as much to do with the additions of Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik as it does with Trotz's desire to get the most out of Green, who had 38 points in 70 games last season.

"We use our three sets so you don't find guys playing 28 or 29 minutes," Trotz said. "What I do see is Mike Green playing 28 minutes like he did last year, or 27, and now 20 minutes this year, he's got a lot more juice to do what he does best and that is deliver the puck and be a part of the offense."

Green has been a minute-munching, offensive defenseman since the 2007-08 season. In fact, the 22:43 he averaged last season was Green's lowest number since 15:29 in 70 games as a rookie in the 2006-07 season.

Green, though, wasn't nearly as productive last season as the Capitals needed him to be or he has been in the past. The only other time he played at least 70 games in a season and produced fewer than 38 points was in 2006-07, when he had 12 points.

Trotz said Green's high minutes last season forced him to play a tame game where he had to just manage the puck instead of try to be dangerous.

"He played so many minutes that he was basically told to sit back there and ... just sort of manage the game because he was playing so many minutes," Trotz said. "I'm asking him to get up in the play and he likes that style of play where he can get up and be a part of the rush. He's so dynamic that why wouldn't I want to have him jump up. He's as good as any forward in the League when he has the puck."

Trotz is also putting Green in positions to use his offensive skillset. He's keeping Green away from the opposition's top lines as much as he can, and the majority of his zone starts take place in the offensive zone. He has 49 starts in the offensive zone as opposed to 24 in the defensive zone, according to War-on-Ice.com. He has started 51 shifts in the neutral zone.

"It's all started with him," Trotz said. "Mike came in in phenomenal shape. He's bought into our style of play. He's really put a big emphasis on getting better, especially through practice, everything from stick detail to how he plays things one-on-one. I think there is a maturity about Mike Green where he thought he had an off year and he wanted to have a bounce-back year. I have been completely happy with Mike Green."

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