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Seven questions with ... Mike Green

by Mike G. Morreale
Mike Green led the League in goals by a defenseman for the second-straight season after connecting for 31 in 68 games for Southeast Division champion Washington. Before Green and his teammates hit the ice in their second-straight postseason appearance, caught up with the Norris Trophy candidate for a quick one-on-one.

Here are our seven questions with Mike Green:

1. Is there a different mindset heading into this season's playoffs as compared to last season?

Mike Green: "Yes. Obviously, last year we fell short in the playoffs and we were disappointed with what happened and that's what has made us even more hungry this year to go further. I think last year going into the playoffs we were playing for our lives and we needed to win to make it and this year we're a little more relaxed and comfortable with ourselves heading into the playoffs."

2. Do you feel clinching a playoff berth earlier this season will benefit the team?

Green: "I think so because last year we almost burnt ourselves out playing as hard as we did just trying to make it, and then once there, maybe we were a little mentally tired; so I think the fact we were able to clinch earlier this year has enabled us to know we'll be there. So we don't have to worry and I think that's good for us. But we still know there's a lot of work to do."

3. What will it take to advance beyond the first round this season?

Green: "I think it's going to take great defense. I think, in the past seasons here, we've been great at scoring goals; but as long as we can figure out our own end and make sure we don't allow teams to take long scoring shifts, I think we'll be fine. We don't have a problem scoring goals."

4. Do you feel teams are paying more attention to you in recent months with all the success you have had?

Green: "Over the last little while I have noticed that players beside me are watching me when in the past it wasn't like that. But that just means that if they're watching me, than someone else is open. It's been tougher to score goals, but as long as I'm getting chances, then I'm all right."

5. Who has been the unsung hero for the Capitals this season?

Green: "It would probably be (forward) Brooks Laich. He's a great player and he's not always in the media, but his role is so important on our team and he comes to play every night. So if we were missing him, then we'd be in some trouble."

6. What is the one thing that upsets your coach, Bruce Boudreau?

Green: "When we're showing a lack of effort or not working hard. If you're not working hard or we look lazy or lethargic, he definitely gets upset about that. If you're working hard and things aren't going right, that's a different story. But when you're not working hard or being outworked, that's when he gets upset."

7. What is it like facing NHL goal-scoring leader Alex Ovechkin in practice every day?

Green: "Well, hmm, when he does practice (laughing) … It's tough because now we just do a lot of shooting drills and passing and stuff to get on the ice. But I wouldn't want to play against him on another team, that's for sure."

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