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No goals yet, but Capitals' Green gaining confidence

by Adam Vingan

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Based solely on statistics, Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green is mired in a slump.

Through 24 games, the 28-year-old is in search of his first goal, the longest season-opening drought of his nine-year career.

Green has come up empty on all 62 shots on goal, the most taken by any player in the League without scoring this season. It's certainly not the norm for the player who has led all defensemen in goals in three of the past five seasons and whose 91 goals since 2007-08 rank second among NHL defensemen.

Coach Adam Oates could tell Green was perhaps forcing things in an attempt to get off the schneid, which was negatively affecting him in other areas.

"I think when a guy gets in a so-called slump, and for him, it was just because he hasn't got a goal," Oates said. "To me, first thing I said was, 'That's not a slump.' Goals will come. For me, it's his touches and his decisions. If you're pressing to get a goal, you're going to skate in opportunities you're not supposed to skate at and not wait for it at the right time. I felt like just his reads were a little off."

In a meeting with Green prior to the Capitals' game against the Montreal Canadiens on Friday, Oates reminded him through video of the simple things that make for an effective defenseman -- defensive reads and positioning, among other things -- and his scoring touch will return as a result of that sound play.

Though Green did not score against the Canadiens or Saturday against the New York Islanders, Oates said he saw what he hoped he would.

"I told him after the Montreal game on the flight to New York, I said, 'That's way different,' in terms of where he is on the ice," Oates said. "And in the Island, he did the same thing, and he almost scores a big goal for us in the second there and he had opportunities. I think if he plays like that, everything will be fine."

Green said he is starting to feel a difference as well.

"[Oates] just kind of gave some pointers again to how he sees me playing and how I used to play and sort of some little tidbits," he said. "Maybe that was a little bit of a confidence booster to get back out there and do the things that I used to do.

"I'm not where I want to be, but definitely on the right path now. I think the last two games, I've started to get back to the way I like to play."

Here are the projected lineups:


Marcus JohanssonNicklas BackstromAlex Ovechkin

Eric FehrMikhail GrabovskiTroy Brouwer

Jason ChimeraJay BeagleJoel Ward

Aaron VolpattiMartin EratTom Wilson

Nate SchmidtJohn Carlson

Karl AlznerMike Green

Dmitry OrlovTyson Strachan

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Scratched: Steve Oleksy, Alexander Urbom

Injured: Brooks Laich (lower body), John Erskine (knee), Jack Hillen (fractured tibial plateau), Michal Neuvirth (lower body)


Jeff SkinnerEric StaalTuomo Ruutu

Jiri TlustyJordan StaalPatrick Dwyer

Nathan GerbeRiley NashElias Lindholm

Drayson BowmanManny MalhotraRadek Dvorak

Andrej Sekera - Justin Faulk

Jay HarrisonRyan Murphy

Ron Hainsey - Brett Bellemore

Justin Peters

Cam Ward

Scratched: Kevin Westgarth, Mike Komisarek

Injured: Alexander Semin (concussion), Tim Gleason (lower body), Joni Pitkanen (heel), Anton Khudobin (ankle)

Notes: Sekera, who has missed the past two games with an upper-body injury, returned to practice Monday and skated alongside defensive partner Faulk. According to coach Kirk Muller, Sekera could return Tuesday.

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