Monday, February 09, 2009

And now...yet another word about Mike Green

Much is being made of Mike Green lately, and with good reason. He is riding a six-game goal-scoring streak. He leads all NHL defensemen in total scoring. He’s fourth in plus-minus. J.P. takes a look at Green’s Norris credentials over at Japers' Rink. James Mirtle asks, “Is Green the NHL’s best defenseman?” What’s unanswered is whether Green can keep this up.

Well, if there is one thing that has characterized Green’s young career so far, it is explosive improvement (we like that term). Two years ago in his first full NHL season, Green played in 70 games, finishing 2-10-12, -10. He had a rather brutal end to the season though (as did the rest of the Capitals), going 0-4-4, -11 in 22 games after the end of January.

OK, let’s move on to last season. His season-long numbers improved dramatically – 18-38-56, +6. The improvement over the previous season (16-28-34, +16) would have made for a nice season in itself. But his improvement as a player might have been most meaningful in those post-January games. In his first 52 games last year, Green was 14-18-32, -5. What he had that he didn’t have in 2006-2007 was a big finish… but not in the goal-scoring sort of way. In his last 30 games last year from February 1st forward, Green was 4-20-24, +11. If he wasn’t getting the goals he might have been getting to earn the nickname “Game Over” Green, he was getting it done in other ways. And, two of those four goals in the last 30 games were game-winners (equaling his total in the first 52 games).

Looking at this graphically…

His pre-February numbers this season equaled or surpassed last year’s in every category, except game-winners, despite playing in 15 fewer games. He has already surpassed the number of post-January goals he had last year in the post-January phase of the season. One couldn’t predict (at least not while sober) that Green will average better than a goal a game and better than the two points per game pace he’s been on in the four games of February, but here is perhaps the number that serves as a good indicator that he won’t slow down much, either… two.

Green has not gone more than two games this season without recording a point. He’s had four pairs of consecutive scoreless games this year. On the other hand, he’s registered a point in 27 of 41 games played this season and 11 of his last 12 games.

While there are no certainties in such things, the arc of improvement in Green’s young career thus far suggests that he should be a prolific point producer from the blue line through the rest of the season. Is that enough to get him serious Norris consideration? Probably, given that in the last ten seasons no Norris winner has had fewer than ten goals or 50 points in his Norris-winning season.


JP said...

My favorite number on those tables might be the pre-Feb. +/- difference between this year and last.

Ironic, isn't it, how Glen Hanlon held Green back for defensive reasons, no?

Oh, and I'd love to take credit for the Green post on my site, but it was DMG's handiwork.

The Peerless said...

That's ok, the whole world seems "Green" these days.