"He's been amazing; he's scored some huge goals for us and he's the reason our power play is near the top of the League right now."
-- Capitals defenseman Tom Poti
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 tonight against the Rangers.
However, the adrenaline will be pumping.
That's because Green is 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 games with a goal 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 currently is 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.
"He's been amazing; he's scored some huge goals for us and he's the reason our power play is near the top of the League right now," Caps defenseman Tom Poti
said of Green. "We're definitely hoping he can tie the record."
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 also was named the NHL's Third Star for the second consecutive week after posting 4 goals and 7 points in three 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, Bruce (Boudreau, Washington coach) 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."
The fourth-season performer, who leads the League's defensemen 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 currently is six points ahead of 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 shoulder injury.
"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."
In addition to Green looking to tie a League record against the Rangers, who are 0-4-1 in their last five games, there are eight other games on the docket this evening. Here are some quick hits to get you geared up for all the action.
* The Rangers are 9-3-2 against the Southeast Division this season while the Capitals have gone 11-1-2 against Atlantic Division foes. Washington boasts a 2-0-1 mark against the Blueshirts in 2008-09.
* Buffalo native Chris Ciamaga will be one of the referees in tonight's contest between the Sabres and the Ottawa Senators
at HSBC Arena (7:30 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, TSN, RDS). Ciamaga played college hockey at Buffalo State and played high school hockey locally at St. Francis.
* Buffalo center Derek Roy
has 99 goals in 326 career games and will look to become the 28th player in franchise history to reach the 100-goal plateau. Rick Martin was the first Sabre to 100 career goals, and it only took him 174 games. Right wing Drew Stafford
is also on the verge of joining the century club, entering tonight's game with 99 career points.
* The San Jose Sharks
hold an 11-10-4 lead in their all-time series with the Penguins, who are 4-4-2 against their California opponent at Mellon Arena. Miroslav Satan
has 6 goals and 14 points in 22 career games against the Sharks, and Sidney Crosby
has 1 assist in two games.
* The Dallas Stars
will play 10 of their 13 February games at American Airlines Center, where the club has gone 13-2-1 in their last 16 games. The Stars' line of Mike Ribeiro
, Jere Lehtinen
and Steve Ott
has been on quite a roll lately. Over the last eight games, in which the club has gone 7-1-0, the trio has combined for 36 points, including 15 of the Stars' 36 goals over that span.
* Devils forward Patrik Elias
has 18 multiple-point games this season and has established a new team record with 176 career multiple-point games. Elias surpassed assistant coach John MacLean
, who recorded 169 multiple-point efforts from 1983-98. Elias' career totals include 119 two-point games and four five-point efforts.
* Anaheim rookie forward Bobby Ryan
is tied for third in the NHL in goals since Jan. 1 and has led all first-year scorers since. He has points in eight of his last 11 games (6 goals, 9 points) after recording a seven-game point streak (Jan. 16-31), the longest by a rookie since Edmonton's Sam Gagner
had a nine-game streak from Feb. 4-24, 2008. Ryan currently leads all NHL rookies in power-play goals (8), shooting percentage (19.1 percent) and points-per-game (.947), and is tied for first in goals (18) and power-play points (15).
* Chicago forward Kris Versteeg
has notched 2 goals and 4 points in the last four games, after missing the first two contests of the club's current eight-game road trip due to injury. The 22-year-old rookie has notched four of Chicago's 8 shorthanded goals this season. He paces NHL rookies with 25 assists and 40 points and shares fourth with 15 goals in 48 games this season.
* Oilers defenseman Tom Gilbert
enters tonight's game against Montreal (10 p.m. ET, RDS) has posted 3 goals and 27 points in 53 games to rank fifth on the Oilers' scoring list. He ranks third in scoring among Oilers defenders and is tied for 23rd among NHL blueliners. His 24 assists are a single-season career-high and rank 15th among NHL defensemen.
* Minnesota forward Cal Clutterbuck
collected seven hits Sunday to boost his NHL-leading total to 201 this season. The NHL record for hits in a season was established by Kings forward Dustin Brown
, who collected 311 in 2007-08. Hits first were counted during the 2004-05 season. Clutterbuck, who has twice recorded nine hits in a game this season, needs to average 3.7 checks over the final 30 games to break Brown's record.