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Green expects to rejoin Capitals lineup Tuesday

by Corey Masisak

ARLINGTON, Va. -- After two injury-ravaged seasons, the last thing Mike Green wanted in 2012-13 was another ailment to deal with.

He's been out of the lineup for nearly two weeks with a groin injury, but the Washington Capitals defenseman expects to return Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. Green has been close to returning for the past few days, but past troubles helped him commit to patience as the preferred strategy.

"Yeah, I mean [not playing] Saturday was kind of from experience and it was a wise one. I’m 100 percent and ready to go," Green said. "Even from Saturday in warm-ups to today skating is night and day. Those two days to rest was perfect."

Added coach Adam Oates: "I hope [he's ready]. We'll see how he feels in the morning. I know he was going full speed, so unless there's a setback the rest of the day, I hope so."

Green played only 81 games in the past two seasons combined because of a collection of maladies. When he did play, he failed to have a similar impact to when he was one of the top offensive-minded defensemen in the League from 2007-08 to 2009-10.

At the beginning of this season, there were signs of the "old" Green. He has two goals and seven points in 14 games, but more importantly he was logging a lot of minutes against top competition and was back to being the quarterback on the team's top power-play unit.

"Well, he's our best defenseman, so he is a huge part of our team," defenseman John Erskine said. "When he's healthy and ready to come back, it will be a huge boost for us."

The Capitals have back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday, but Green said he's not worried about monitoring ice time or any lingering effects from the injury.

"I don't think so," Green said. "The reason why I'm ready to play is I'm 100 percent, and it was either battle through it on Saturday or else wait until I'm 100 percent so I could play back-to-backs, so here we are."

When Oates took the job, there was an expectation that he would be able to help revive a power play that was one of the best in League history for two seasons when Bruce Boudreau's teams were rolling, but had since slid back toward the middle of the pack.

Oates had the team relying on Green and new center Mike Ribeiro on one side of the ice with Alex Ovechkin on the other, and even with John Carlson in Green's place the extra-man work has been proficient.

"Just the movement and the puck -- the plays we're making with the puck are the plays we used to make," Green said. "It can create those chances. It is not just structure. [Oates] lets us be creative within the system, and that's why it is working. We're all skilled players who can make those plays, and if we're limited it is not going to work out and we're not limited."

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