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Southeast: Under Boudreau, Green means go

by Robert Picarello

As a coach for the Hershey Bears, Bruce Boudreau led the team to an AHL Calder Cup championship in 2006. Seven current members of the Capitals where on that team.
One of the reasons Bruce Boudreau was given a chance to coach the Capitals was because of his past relationship with several of Washington's young players.

Boudreau led the Hershey Bears to an AHL Calder Cup championship in 2006 with seven current members of the Capitals contributing in some way. One player who had a huge role in bringing the AHL title to Hershey was defenseman Mike Green. Washington's first-round pick in the 2004 Entry Draft, Green scored nine goals and 34 assists in 56 regular-season games for Hershey during the 2005-06 season, and then added 18 points in 21 playoff games.

"Getting to that point is a lot harder to reach on this level, but anytime you win a Cup or a championship it's going to help you realize what it takes to reach that goal," Green said. "I think having that experience has helped me a great deal in my confidence while also giving me a taste of what it takes to be a champion."

In tabbing Boudreau to replace Glen Hanlon on Nov. 22, Washington General Manager George McPhee was hoping young players like Green would respond to his familiar face and remember the glorious run they had together just a few short years ago. So far the move has worked, as the Caps are 6-3-1 with Boudreau at the helm.

Green's play has improved dramatically under Boudreau. He has scored five goals and two assists and has a plus-8 rating in Washington's last 10 games. Overall, Green leads all NHL defensemen in goals and tops all Caps defensemen in scoring with eight goals and six assists. His eight goals also place him second on the team in goals and his 14 points place him fifth on the squad in scoring.

"My game is to get up the ice and create odd-man rushes as much as I can without getting caught, but I also try and make plays," Green said. "I wouldn't say I'm a stay-at-home defenseman at all or anything like that. I like to try and create things out there, and here or there try and score some goals. I also like to try and help out on the power play, too."

Through Washington's first 31 games, Green had four power-play points off three goals and one assist. He also had a pair of two-goal games and one game-winning goal, which came in overtime in Wednesday night’s dramatic 5-4 win over the New York Rangers. Green's eight tallies already doubles the goal total of any Washington defender from last season (Jamie Heward had four), and almost triples his career total entering the 2007-08 season (three in 92 games).

"Greenie is an exciting young D-man. I think he's suited perfectly for the new NHL," Washington center Brooks Laich said. "With the way he skates and moves the puck, he's an offensive-minded two-way defenseman who can play in his own zone, as well as play on the power play and penalty kill. I think he's an exciting young player for our hockey club and someone who you're going to see turn into a real good player in this league."

Especially if Boudreau sticks around.


Who's hot -- Atlanta's Marian Hossa has 25 points (10 goals, 15 assists) in his last 18 contests. He picked up two assists Wednesday night in a 5-3 loss to the Bruins. …Washington's Alex Ovechkin has scored goals in 11 of his last 16 games and has at least a point in 15 of those 16 contests (13-8-21). The Caps winger has had a hand in 21 of the Capitals' last 45 goals in the last 16 games. … Carolina right winger Erik Cole has scored three points in his last three games, including two goals in 5-2 loss to the Red Wings Sunday night in Detroit. … Heading into Thursday's action, Tampa Bay's Brad Richards had two goals and two assists in his last four games. Richards also potted the game-decider Tuesday night in a shootout win over the Montreal Canadiens. … Florida center Olli Jokinen has a five-game point streak (5-2-7) and has scored a goal in four of the last five games, including Tuesday night's 2-1 shootout loss to the Calgary Flames.

Southeast quotes -- "I've found that if I go in with speed and doing something quick I have more success, and that's all it is. There's no secret. I go in and try to shoot, it's pretty simple. I don't have the hands to do a bunch of dipsy-doodle stuff."

-- Tampa Bay's Brad Richards on his shootout winner Tuesday night against the Montreal Canadiens.

"Hearing him behind us, 'Keep your heads up' and 'We need to get two goals' – that was the bottom line. We just had faith we were going to win the game, and good things happen when you have faith."

-- Washington's Mike Green on interim coach Bruce Boudreau's influence on the team's 5-4 overtime win Wednesday night against the Rangers.

A look ahead -- Friday, Dec. 14, the Washington Capitals host to the Buffalo Sabres, the Carolina Hurricanes meet the Calgary Flames and the Atlanta Thrashers play the Maple Leafs. Saturday, Dec. 15, the Thrashers travel to Ottawa, the Hurricanes travel to Philadelphia, the Florida Panthers square off with the Red Wings and the Capitals are in Tampa Bay. Sunday, Dec. 16, the Panthers travel to Chicago.

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