Green shows glimpses of why Wings liked him

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Detroit defenseman Mike Green passes the puck in the first period Wednesday night.

Detroit — This was what the Red Wings were expecting to get when they signed defenseman Mike Green.

Especially Monday in Ottawa, Green was skating the puck into the Senators’ zone, looking to pass, finding an open man, or firing the puck at net.

Head always up, and looking over the action on the ice.

Jumping into the play and making a big offensive play is a prime reason Green was signed to a three-year contract worth $18 million on July 1 with the Red Wings.

With the Red Wings encouraging their defensemen to not shy away from an offensive standpoint, Green is thrilled.

“It’s good to sort of kind of get back to feeling like you can jump up in the play,” Green said. “They encourage that here, which is good. I’m finding that when I see holes I’m able to jump and feel confident the forwards will support you.”

Green had two assists in Monday’s 4-3 overtime victory over Ottawa, and now has four assists in the last five games.

The season’s numbers still look rather ordinary, with no goals and six assists in 12 games (Green missed six with a shoulder injury) and has a team-worst minus-7 rating.

Green also missed some of training camp with a groin strain, which makes coach Jeff Blashill believe Green’s best hockey is still ahead of him as the defenseman continues to get more comfortable.

“He’s still trying to get his game going to the ‘A’ level,” Blashill said. “When he’s on the attack he’s great. Him and I talked (at Monday’s morning skate in Ottawa) about being on the attack all the time and gapping and skating forward.

“He’s a great forward skater. Let’s utilize that. He did a real good job (against Ottawa).”

Green faced his former team of 10 years Wednesday, the Washington Capitals, feeling better about his own game with his new team.

“Especially when you’re joining a new team, you want to help out and contribute,” Green said. “But sometimes it takes a little time to sort of get the feel, and flow, of how the team plays.

“I feel like we’re really coming along here.”

A key reason Green has been able to seamlessly re-enter the lineup, he said, is because of work with the training staff when he was disabled with the shoulder injury.

Green skated extensively with Pavel Datsyuk — who was rehabilitating from ankle surgery — and Green was able to jump back into the lineup without issue.

“I was able to skate with Mike Kadar (Red Wings’ strength and conditioning coach) and everything we worked on was sort of preparing for game situations,” Green said. “Not only that, we were on the ice for a good two hours sometimes. So conditioning wasn’t an issue.”

When Green and the other defensemen are contributing offensively, pushing the opposition on their heels and attacking, Blashill believes it makes this particular Red Wings roster that much stronger.

“It’s something we emphasized in camp and re-emphasized (in late October),” Blashill said. “I just think it puts teams on their heels a little bit and it plays to our skill-set of our defensemen.

“We have defensemen that when they’re gapped up tight, they’re really good. We got defense that when they’re on the attack, they’re really good.

“So we have to continue to do that.”