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THN.com Blog: Mike Green loves red lights

Mike Green of the Washington Capitals is on pace for 34 goals and 80 points in 69 games this season. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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Mike Green of the Washington Capitals is on pace for 34 goals and 80 points in 69 games this season. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

As Mike Green prepares for his assault on the NHL record book, he couldn’t ask for a much better opponent.

Green will try to become the first defenseman in NHL history to score at least one goal in eight straight games when his Washington Capitals visit the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday night.

The Bolts, in case you haven’t noticed, are not quite the defensive juggernaut nobody expected them to be when the season began. They give up a ton of chances and, going into Friday night’s games, sat 27th in the league with 32.1 shots against per game.

Sufficed to say that with Green’s confidence at an all-time high and a spot in NHL history on the line, the Caps blueliner will be bombing away looking for that goal.

“Right now,” Green told the Washington Post recently, “if it’s on my stick, I’m shooting it.”

The question that needs to be asked now, though, is if Paul Coffey’s record of 48 goals, the hallmark for markers by a defenseman in one season, is going to be in jeopardy in the next few seasons? Are we looking at a defenseman who is capable of becoming the first 50-goal scorer in NHL history?

Don’t laugh; it could happen. Green is only 23 years old, which means he could still be five years away from hitting his peak as a player. And look at what he’s doing already.

Consider that, with 21 goals this season, Green has as many or more goals than 16 entire NHL defense corps this season – he has more than 13 teams’ defensemen combined and is tied with three others.

Despite missing 13 games this season with a shoulder injury, Green is currently on pace to score 35 goals this season, which would be the eighth-highest total for a defenseman of all-time. Projected over an 82-game schedule, Green’s pace this season would have given him 41 goals, which would be the third-best total of all-time behind Coffey in 1985-86 and Bobby Orr (46) in ’74-75. Should Green continue on his pace and score 35 this season, it will be the highest total recorded by a defenseman in 23 years.

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You’d have to think that if they continue to build and stock their lineup properly, the Capitals aren’t going anywhere for the next couple of seasons and will continue to be an elite offensive team with a potent power play. If you believe Green hasn’t yet reached his full offensive potential, a 50-goal season certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

GOALS BY DEFENSE BY TEAM
Florida – 37
Boston – 34
Edmonton – 32
San Jose – 32
Washington - 32
Nashville – 31
Toronto - 29
Anaheim – 28
Detroit - 28
Chicago – 26
Minnesota – 26
Islanders – 23
Vancouver – 23
Columbus – 22
Mike Green – 21
Montreal – 21
Rangers – 21
Pittsburgh – 21
Atlanta – 17
Calgary – 19
Carolina – 19
Colorado – 19
Ottawa – 19
Phoenix - 18
Dallas – 15
Philadelphia - 15
Los Angeles – 14
New Jersey – 13
Tampa Bay - 12
Buffalo – 11
St. Louis –11

(Includes all goals scored by each team’s defense corps. For example, Matt Carle of Philadelphia has three goals, but one was scored with Tampa Bay, so the Lightning gets credit for that goal and one comes off the Flyers total.)

Ken Campbell, author of the book Habs Heroes, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesday and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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