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Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green on the brink of history

“I don’t want to think about it,” Capitals defenseman Mike Green said of possibly setting a scoring record.

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“I don’t want to think about it,” Capitals defenseman Mike Green said of possibly setting a scoring record.

TAMPA — Mike Green said if he thought about the history he could make tonight, the game itself might not be as fun.

And, really, Green said, isn't fun what playing in the NHL is all about?

"I just want to go out and play and do what I'm doing right now," the Capitals defenseman said. "Whatever comes from it is great. I'm just enjoying myself."

And scoring goals.

A tally against the Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum and Green, 23, from Calgary, becomes the first NHL blueliner to score goals in eight consecutive games.

"I don't want to think about it," said Green, who matched Mike O'Connell's seven-game streak with the 1983-84 Bruins. "If I start trying to press and do too much, it's just going to backfire on me. Just play the game."

For Green, the game has taken on a different dimension since Nov. 22, 2007, when Bruce Boudreau was hired as coach.

In 113 games prior under Glen Hanlon, Green had six goals, 22 points and was minus-26. In 103 games since, Green has 36 goals, 98 points and is plus-38.

Green even scored the first goal in Boudreau's first game, 2:27 into the first period.

Perhaps that shouldn't be a surprise. Boudreau coached Green at AHL Hershey, where they won the 2006 Calder Cup.

"I handled him the same way I handled him in Hershey," Boudreau said. "I treated him like a man and tried to accentuate his attributes. He was a lot about confidence when he was young, so when he made mistakes, just throw him back out there … give him the confidence that he'll continue to play."

"He's unbelievable like that," Green said. "And when he gives you that, you don't take advantage of him and just go all over the ice. You really respect him and play within the system, but you use your skills and play offensively."

Those skills include a shot Tampa Bay coach Rick Tocchet called "one of the best in the league. As much as (Alex) Ovechkin can shoot the puck, Mike Green can shoot some peas out there."

Lightning defenseman Jamie Heward, Green's teammate for two seasons with the Capitals, said Green "has the ability go behind his net and see the play develop before it even happens. You're in awe. You're dumbfounded he puts up the numbers consistently."

The numbers are staggering.

Green leads all defensemen with 21 goals and 49 points, and Boudreau pointed out that had Green not missed 13 games with an injured shoulder, "He would be among the top-10 scorers in the league, not just defensemen."

Green entered Friday leading all players with 23 points since Jan. 10. During his seven-game goal streak, he has nine goals and 15 points.

"I remember talking to him about respect for the game and not being a systems player who didn't care," Heward said. "I told him, 'If you want to be a great player, you have to work at it.' "

"I remember those conversations," Green said. "When I got here, I struggled and wasn't confident in my game. Jamie was really a mentor to me. He helped me through those times and coached me. He taught me you have to play all aspects of the game, not just one."

He helped him, perhaps, make some history.

Notes: St. Pete Times Forum employees were told Friday that they will have to pay $30 a month to park at a lot Lightning owner OK Hockey leases across the street from the arena. The funds will help pay the $250,000 yearly lot rental, spokesman Bill Wickett said. "Nobody likes to make budget cuts or fiscal decisions that negatively impact their employees. But the facts are what they are, and being in a downtown environment, this is the best alternative for everyone affected." … F Paul Szczechura was sent to AHL Norfolk, presumably to get playing time after missing 12 games with a knee injury. … D Paul Ranger (upper body) was put on injured reserve retroactive to Feb. 4.

Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green on the brink of history 02/13/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 13, 2009 10:23pm]
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