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Adam Oates to Mike Green: ‘Goals will come’
Warning: The following two stats may cause severe side effects.
• From the 2007-08 season until the start of this season, no defenseman in the NHL scored more goals than Mike Green’s 91.
• Through 27 games this season no player in the NHL has recorded more shots without a goal than Green’s 62.
Since Green has played in 24 of the Caps’ 27 games this season, that’s an average of 2.6 shots a night for the Caps’ 28-year-old defenseman that are not finding their way into opposing nets.
“The first thing I said to him was, ‘That’s not a slump. Goals will come,’” Oates said. “He got nine [goals] in April. For me, it’s his touches and his decisions.
“If you’re pressing to get a goal you’re going to skate when you’re not supposed to skate and not wait for the right time. I thought his reads were a little off and I showed him a few situations.”
Oates noticed that in his quest to create more offense, Green was putting the puck in dangerous areas, allowing teams to counter-attack and forcing himself into taking bad penalties — three of them in a 6-4 loss to Ottawa last week.
“He does make a lot of good decisions, but he’s got to stop focusing on the goals,” Oates said. “You’re going to end up with five, 10? I need the other stuff. It’s way more important.”
The “other stuff” Oates is referring to are cleaner breakouts with new defense partner Karl Alzner; chipping the puck behind opposing defensemen when there is no clear entry into the offensive zone; and playing good positional hockey when he doesn’t have the puck.
Oates said he saw a lot of those things in wins over the Canadiens and Islanders.
“He kind of gave me some pointers again to how he sees me playing and how I used to play,” Green said. “Sort of little tidbits. That was a little bit of a confidence boost to go out there and do the things I used to do. Sometimes you forget and you kind of retract and go back into a defensive state.”
Green was asked to take a more defensive posture two seasons ago under former coach Dale Hunter. It drastically affected his offensive numbers, but so did missing more than half of that 2011-12 season with sports hernia surgery.
Now that Green is healthy and has one year remaining on a three-year, $18.25 million contract, he wants to find the proper balance between being an offensive force and being reliable in his own end.
“[Oates] told me to get back to the things you do well,” Green said. “That’s what I’m trying for now. I know Adam gives us the reins to do our thing, but within the limits of the structure of the system.”
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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