From Alzner to Wideman, we're taking a look at and grading (please read the criteria below) the 2011-12 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2012-13. Next up,.
#52 / Defenseman / Washington Capitals
Key Stat: Green has played in just 32 of the Caps' last 102 regular season games (but has played in 22 of the team's 23 playoff games over that span).
Interesting Stat: With his overtime goal on opening night, Green moved into sole possession of second place in franchise history in career overtime goals with six (Alex Ovechkin, of course, is in first with an even dozen).
The Good: Green started the season strong, punctuating the team's hot start with a two-goal, two-assist game against the Wings in the 7-1 rout that pushed the Caps to 7-0-0, and for much of the season, Green's mere presence in the lineup made the Caps a different team - with him dressed, they went 19-10-3; without him, 23-22-5. His maturation into a solid two-way defender continued, as he finished the season second among the team's blueliners in relative Corsi at even-strength, posted the best on-ice goal differential per sixty and was relatively effective in limited penalty killing minutes.
Green started to look more "Green-like" as the playoffs rolled around, though his scoring numbers don't necessarily reflect it. But of the 29 goals the Caps scored in the post-season, Green was on the ice for 13 of them, second on the team only to Brooks Laich (14), and his plus-seven goal differential was tops on the team, bolstered by the best goals-against per sixty at even-strength of any Caps blueliner (and best among any rearguard who has played more than ten games in these playoffs).
Finally, while it's certainly implied throughout this Wrap, Green deserves kudos for persevering through an injury-riddled season that included uncertainty, surgery, rehab and a return to the ice, if not to form.
The Bad: The offensive numbers were eye-poppingly bad for a player who just two seasons prior led all defensemen in scoring and averaged more than a point per game, the 30-game goal-less drought almost inconceivable for a man who three years earlier set an NHL mark for blueliners by scoring a goal in eight-straight games. Green - who led all defensemen in even-strength goals over the three-year span ending in 2009-10 - didn't have a single one in 32 games in 2011-12, and in 87 minutes of power-play ice time, he managed just a single assist. At even-strength, Mike Green was outscored, per minute, by Karl Alzner. Yeah, it was that bad.
And while Green's defensive numbers, at least, looked good, they came against relatively soft competition at five-on-five, and those penalty-kill numbers were aided by other-worldly goaltending/puck luck (ditto his five-on-five numbers in the playoffs). Mike Green is a better defender than he was years ago, and better than his reputation in some circles... but let's not get carried away.
Of course, the elephant in the room is durability, and Green hasn't been able to demonstrate any in years - he's missed more than half of the Caps' regular season games over the past two seasons, and nearly one-third over the past four. His ability to stay healthy went first, but Green's production wasn't far behind.
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: Despite the persistent injury concerns and decline in productivity, it's hard to envision the Caps and Green parting ways this summer... but should they? In order to keep him, the Caps need to qualify him at $5 million for one year, though the two sides could agree to a deal with different dollars and term - should they pursue a longer-term/lower-dollar deal? Can Green stay healthy, and, if so, what should his role be going forward? Assuming he's still here next season, what will it take for him to earn a "10"?