From Alzner to Varlamov, we're taking a look at and grading the 2008-09 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2009-10. Next up, Mike Green.
#52 / Defenseman / Washington Capitals
Oct 12, 1985
$5,250,000 cap hit in 2009-10; RFA after 2011-12
Interesting Stat: Green was tenth in the League in points-per-game (minimum 18 games played), and the only defenseman in the top 59.
The Good: Forget for a moment that Green is a Norris Trophy finalist as the League's best all-around defenseman - a strong argument can be made that he was the NHL's most valuable player in 2008-09. Besides the points and plus-minus mentioned above, the Caps were 20-4-2 in games in which Green lit the lamp and 33-5-4 in games in which he had a point (10-12-4 when he played and was pointless, 7-7-0 with Green out of the lineup entirely).
But it was his goal-scoring prowess that really made Green's campaign stand out, as he became just the seventh defenseman to ever score 30 goals in a season, the first to do it since 1992-93 (Kevin Hatcher), the youngest to do it since 1983-84 (Paul Coffey), and if you were to adjust his 31-tally total to account for the era in which he scored 'em, Green's season was one of the greatest goal-scoring campaigns by a blueliner in NHL history (and that doesn't even consider the record he set for consecutive games with a goal by a defenseman). Green led all NHL defensemen in both shots-per-game and shooting percentage (as a ridiculous point of comparison, if Alex Ovechkin had the League's best shooting percentage to go with his top shots-per-game rate, he'd have scored 110 goals this past season) and scored more goals than the entire New York Rangers blueline.
And he missed 14 games.
Green quarterbacked the Caps' to the League's second-best power play, the best in franchise history (though, interestingly, the PP was 25.18% efficient with Green in the lineup and 25.45% effective without him), was seventh in the League in average ice time per game and first among blueliners in even strength points (and second to Andrei Markov in power-play points). He was second on the Caps in blocked shots (Milan Jurcina), first in takeaways among the D, and had the best five-on-five +/-ON/60 of any defenseman in the League (minimum forty games played).
Finally, while Bruce Boudreau didn't use him as often as others on the penalty kill (and he when he was used, it was against weaker opposition), Green had the best GAON/60 of any skater on the team four-on-five (minimum one minute of penalty killing time per game), and the best GAON/60 of any skater in the entire League who killed at least 2.3 minutes of penalties per game.
The Bad: Rather than all the stats and info packed into "The Good" above, we could have just as easily typed three words: "the regular season." By the same token, we could fill this section out with "the playoffs" and be done with it. Whether it was injuries (shoulder? ribs? mono?), equipment issues or the weight of the expectations he's created, Green was a different player entirely in the post-season, culminating with a minus-three rating and a third-period benching in Game 7 of the Penguins series. He's still at the top of the list for playoff giveaways (though we should take that with a shaker of salt) and is unlikely to be caught, which segues into a regular season "bad," that being that he was second among NHL blueliners and fourth among all skaters in giveaways, and would have finished first had he played a full season. Then again, adjust the numbers to account for arena-specific scoring bias in this highly subjective statistic and Green doesn't look quite so bad. And speaking of looking bad, that playoff mohawk has to fall under "the bad," no?
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: What would you like to see Green improve on in 2009-10? What will it take for him to earn a 10 rating next year?