From Alzner to Varlamov, we're taking a look at and grading (please read the criteria below) the 2009-10 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2010-11. Next up, Mike Green.
#52 / Defenseman / Washington Capitals
Key Stats: Nominated for the James Norris Memorial Trophy, and led all defensemen in the NHL in goals and points, for the second consecutive season.
Interesting Stat: His +/- in Southeast Division GP (22) was just +4, versus +35 in his other 53 games played in 2009-10, by far the largest +/- discrepancy between in-division and out-of-division games amongst Caps' D. (But that +/- rating outside of the SE division was the best amongst all defensemen in non-SE division games.)
The Good: Mike Green was an offensive juggernaut again from the blue line, leading the team toward another season of 25.2% efficiency on the power play (this time, the league's best mark). His points total ,again, marked a career high.
To his primary defensive duties, he cruised to the best ratio of GF to GA per 60 minutes of all defensemen in the league save his pairmate, Jeff Schultz. "Quiet improvement" was the phrase that best described the development of Green's shutdown game this season. Or not so quiet when taking into account that he was on ice for 24 fewer goals at ES than fellow Norris finalist Duncan Keith (and just five more than third finalist Drew Doughty).
Green was also more disciplined during the season -- a two-game suspension aside -- committing an average of 0.36 minors per game, compared with 0.5 a season ago. Even more striking: he drew 20 penalties and took 18 at ES during 2009-10. A ridiculously impressive ratio for a defender, and one of the best in the league for a rearguard.
In short, Green put it all together . . . in the regular season.
The Bad: When the playoffs rolled around, Green rolled over. No, we shouldn't be that harsh. But a second consecutive season of regular season sizzle followed by playoff fizzle has raised serious concerns about Green's ability to perform in the post-season.
A shoulder injury dogged him in the spring of 2009, and this season his hinderance was, to paraphrase his coach and the team's GM, overzealousness, and perhaps also another injury, this time to his wrist. Whatever the reason, or excuse, for his play in late April, it sure throws a healthy bundle of kindling to the flames of "I told you so" critique of his Norris candidacy.
A crucial Game 5 at home against Les Habitants saw Green caught in the same fog that prevented the team's charter from landing the night before, seemingly out of step with the exigencies of the moment and the playmaking of his teammates. What's worst, he followed up a third-period benching in Game 7 of the Penguins series in 2009 with a Game 7 vs. Montreal this spring in which he committed a blatant and pointless O-zone cross-check, late in the first period, that gave the Habs a power play and, from it, a lead that they would never relinquish.
Green needed to perform at least in the vicinity of his regular season level in order for the Caps to advance beyond the first round. He didn't, and they didn't.
The Vote: Rate Green below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.
The Discussion: Will next spring be the one that Green brings his regular season game to the post-season? Was Green just "trying too hard" in the Montreal series? What will it take for him to earn a 10 rating next year?