defenseman Mike Green
admits he won't be gripping the stick any tighter than he normally does when the puck is dropped at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday against the Rangers.
However, the adrenaline will be pumping.
That's because Green is currently on a six-game goal-scoring rampage and needs one more against the Blueshirts to equal the mark set by Boston's Mike O'Connell for most consecutive goals scored by a defenseman in NHL history.
"Yeah, it would definitely mean something to equal that mark, but I'm not going to put any pressure on myself if it doesn't happen," Green told NHL.com. "It won't be the end of the world, but it would be nice to be in the record books for something. Hopefully it works out, but I'm not going to go out and try and change my game to break a record."
O'Connell, who is currently working in player development for the Los Angeles Kings
, enjoyed a standout 13-year NHL career as a defenseman with the Bruins, Detroit Red Wings
and his hometown Chicago Blackhawks
. His record seven-game goal-scoring streak was established as a Bruin during the 1983-84 season.
Green became the first NHL defenseman in nearly a quarter-century to score a goal in six straight, registering 7 goals and 14 points over that span. He was also named the NHL's Third Star for the second consecutive week after posting 7 points (4 goals) in 3 games. If the 23-year-old Green can match the record against the Rangers, he'll get his opportunity to break the mark Saturday in Tampa Bay.
"I think I'm starting to feel confident and more comfortable," Green said. "In the beginning when you first start out in the League, you're fighting for a spot or trying to get your minutes up. But now I feel I have a role and I feel comfortable and, not only that, (Washington coach) Bruce (Boudreau) gives me the freedom to do what I can do and that's key as a player. When there are no limitations on you, you can really excel and he's given me that free range."
Boudreau admits Green isn't given any special preferential treatment when it comes to getting the green light to motor off the transition.
"The (other defensemen) have got the light, too, but some of them just can't go as fast," said Boudreau. "There's a difference between a Volkswagen and a Lamborghini."
"That's an interesting comparison," Green said, grinning.
The fourth-season performer, who leads all defenders in the League in goals (19), power-play goals (14) and points (47) through 41 games, is bidding to become the first Washington blueliner to lead the League in points by a defenseman since Sergei Gonchar
tied for the League-lead in 2001-02 with 59.
"I think he's an unbelievable player and a great skater with great hockey sense," Washington forward Tomas Fleischmann
said. "His shooting is awesome and coach Boudreau gives him a lot of confidence. Mike knows he can do it and he does it."
Green is currently six points better than Montreal's Andrei Markov
, who has 7 goals and 41 points. Perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that the Capitals are 27-10-3 with Green in the lineup and 7-6-0 when their defensive star is sidelined by injury. He missed 13 games during parts of November and December with a bum shoulder this season.
"He has a lot of speed and always follows the forwards into the offensive zone," Caps forward Nicklas Backstrom
said. "That makes him special and, on top of that, it's been great that he helps us by scoring all those goals."
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com.