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Green lights it up for Capitals

by Mike G. Morreale
Mike Green admits watching every second of every game Team Canada played during the 2010 Olympics
And while the Washington Capitals' defenseman would have loved to have been a part of the gold-medal celebration following the overtime win against Team USA, he's not losing any sleep over the fact he wasn't selected by Hockey Canada's braintrust.
"I was disappointed because I knew that they had a good team, I was in Canada and wanted to represent my country in my own country because that doesn't happen very often," Green said. "Not being a part of that was kind of a downer, but it's only a step in the long journey of opportunities and I'll have another one."

Green continues to quietly go about his business as one of the League's premier offensive-defenseman. Thing is, when you play on a team that offers the offensive arsenal of the Capitals -- Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom -- it's easy to forget about the back end.

To his credit, Green hasn't made that so easy. Tuesday, Green became the 13th defenseman in NHL history to post consecutive 70-point seasons after notching an assist in a victory against the Florida Panthers. He has points in 14 of his last 15 games and he leads all defensemen with 17 goals and 53 assists. Additionally, his plus-31 rating is second among all NHL defensemen, trailing only teammate Jeff Schultz (plus-37).

"The (offensive numbers) are nice, but not something where I can hang my hat and feel like I've accomplished something," Green told "I think there's a lot more to accomplish. The thing is, I am looked upon to score goals and create offense from the back end. But I'm trying to become a complete player -- that's what I'm striving for."

Green has heard the criticism -- how he's too much of a high-risk performer and not as responsible in his own end. And while he never denied the accusations, he's not just going to sit around and gripe about it, either.

"When you first come into the League, you're a little naïve about how the game is played and I understood how to create offense and how to jump into the play," Green said. "I was quick enough to get back, but I think in order for you to become that complete player, there's more to playing strong defense than just being able to pick your opportunities to jump up into the play, make that first pass or stretch pass for a breakaway. Those are the things that I feel people admire more and not so much being all over the ice. So I've kind of adjusted my game to that. I think I get criticized a little bit with being a high-risk player, so I want get rid of that rap."

While he still strives to become that complete defenseman, Green admits he's reached a comfort level in his fifth season along the Capitals' blue line.

"I'm very comfortable and I know my role, but it has taken two to three years to find a balance of what I need to do," he said. "I'm very comfortable with what's asked of me."

Green admits he doesn't set out each season to break records or raise the bar; rather, just help his team reach its goals.

"Everything kind of happens so quick -- records sneak up on you -- but I'm just honored to be a part of those scoring categories," he said. "I have to credit my teammates. I play on a great team and we really have a great chemistry and that makes it easy to create personal goals and achieve them."

Green not only has produced more goals and points than any other defenseman over the last three seasons, but according to the Elias Sports Bureau, he has scored the most goals (67) among active defenders in the League over his first 300 NHL games.

Now, Green is looking forward to something a little more tangible and within reach -- a serious run in an effort to capture the Stanley Cup.

"I think we're hungry," Green said. "Our mindset two years ago was just making the playoffs, and in the second year we made the playoffs, but weren't as experienced as we needed to be. Now we are. We have that confidence that as long as we play the way we can, we're going to win most nights and that'll set us up for a Stanley Cup. I think we're learning how important every game is and how important it is to follow your system and play as a team because one guy is not going to win it for you."

Contact Mike Morreale at
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