With team Canada’s men's ice hockey roster for the 2010 Winter Olympics announced Dec. 30, one of the biggest surprises was probably the exclusion of Mike green.
The Calgary native has not only assisted in bringing depth to the blue line in Washington, but also adds an offensive force. Holding the longest consecutive scoring streak (eight games) by a defenseman, it’s pretty clear he isn’t scared to shoot the puck when he has the chance. He can move the puck up through the neutral zone with no problem and can take good shots from the point.
Drafted first round, 29th overall in the 2004 NHL Entry draft, the 24-year-old has brought great potential to a strengthening Washington team. Finishing the season with 31 goals in 2009, Green’s been turning heads with his offensive talent.
Having a defenseman who can take shots when necessary and has no problems moving the puck up is a valuable asset no team would pass on, so it’s not much of a surprise fans were shocked when Mike Green didn’t make the Canadian Olympic team.
Mike Green is a great offensive defenseman, but he might be forgetting the roots of his position.
Being a defenseman means the first priority is defending the net in broad. Applying pressure on shooters, blocking shots, and simply taking the puck away from the opposition are all small jobs defensemen must be able to do if they wish to succeed in the National Hockey League.
A defenseman’s job is basically to protect and do whatever it takes to not let the shooter through. If a defenseman believes he’s doing well in all areas of defending, he can attempt to contribute a little more offensively with consideration to his defending.
Despite being an excellent offensive force, Green lacks defensive play. It’s pretty clear that Mike Green’s offensive ambitions prioritize over his will to get back and defend, but at what risk?
The Washington Capitals are a pretty solid team and Green’s lack of defence usually doesn’t cost much, and his offence makes up for it. He might be able to pull it off in Washington, or at an NHL level, but not when it comes to the Olympics.
Team Canada is more than full with firepower. Power forwards like Jerome Iginla, Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau, and many more are all going to be concentrating on scoring goals. With good players chosen to score goals, good players to prevent goals were needed.
Even though Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo might be between the pipes, solid defensemen are needed to break up plays and not let opponents get clear shots through, defensemen who were going to prioritize defence and focus on feeding the puck up to the forwards. Mike Green did not fit the criteria.
Although Mike Green is not horrible on defence, but his game relies heavily on his offensive focus. He’s an excellent defenseman and well rounded, but when it comes to Yzerman’s criteria, Green didn’t quite fit. Green is pretty good on defence, he can take pucks away from opponents, and isn’t afraid to go in deep to regain possession. However, when it comes to the Olympics, “pretty good” isn’t good enough, only the best are required.
Mike green is one of the best, but not the best defensively.
Although Green’s offensive force is a huge asset, it’s not needed with the power forwards that the team already has. When it comes to stopping skilled Russian forwards like Ovechkin, Malkin, and Kovalchuk, Canada’s going to want defensemen who can stay back and defend.
Let’s be honest, if Mike Green acquires possession of the puck deep in the neutral zone during a rush, is he going to pass it up and skate back? Or, is he going to move the puck up and try to get a zone from the point, if not dangle through the opposition?
Mike Green’s offensive priorities can cause turnovers that would leave one defenseman battling single-handed against skilled forwards.
Even though Green is still superior defensively to Drew Doughty, who made the team, Doughty was selected because he doesn’t posses the offensive ambitions Green does. Doughty trusts the forwards to do their jobs and focuses on his own, Green prefers to get both jobs done himself, which results in one done poorly if not both. Doughty may not be the best skater, but he gets the job done as well as adds a little bit of fire power up front which isn't really nessessary but helps.
Mike Green is a great defenseman, but Team Canada is best off without him, at least for now.