Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green's voluminous injury history is well-documented and once again he finds himself out of action, this time as a result of a concussion suffered against the Columbus Blue Jackets last Thursday.
With that in mind (not to mention Green's importance to the Capitals as a minute-hogging puck mover and power-play quarterback), opponents have made him a target for several years, never passing up an opportunity to punish him physically.
Yet as evidenced by the play that caused the concussion, in which Green was beaten to a loose puck by Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner, the 28-year-old does himself no favors by putting himself in precarious situations.
"At times, yes. I think sometimes he's his own worst enemy," coach Adam Oates said. "He's a targeted man. We've talked about that, and that's why he's got to be a sharp player every night. He can't relax because he's got an 'X' on his back right there.
"The other night on his hit, he got caught a little bit out of position. He's in better position, he probably doesn't take that hit. He tried as hard as he could to recover, but he wouldn't have had to recover if he was in little bit better position. Sometimes he's his own worst enemy, but the warrior in him wanted to take the punishment."
Oates has tried to find ways to protect the oft-injured Green, whether it be by spreading out his minutes (he averages 22:51 of ice time per game, second-most on the team) or holding him out of the Capitals' 6-5 overtime win against the Detroit Red Wings as a precaution.
Green's status for Tuesday against the New York Islanders is uncertain, but when he does return to the lineup, it will take a concerted effort from him and Oates to make sure that he remains there.
"It's frustrating because a guy of his skill set, he's a smart hockey player," Oates said. "You don't expect mental mistakes. And then how are you going to recover? Just like all of us, when we get mentally tired, you make mistakes that you wouldn't make if you're fresh. So is that was it was? Maybe you're a little tired? Maybe your shift was too long? That's the stuff that as coaches you've got to try and coach him through."
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