UPDATED AT 6:07 P.M.
While the Capitals were digging themselves a hole withback-to-back losses to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers, defensemanMike Green was digging himself into the ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.Limited to 10 games this season because of tears in his groin and abdominalmuscles, Green skated for a third straight day on Thursday and said hesalready feeling positive results from his Jan. 17 surgery to repair a sportshernia.
Its comforting now that its fixed and I can tell right away, Green said. Itsjust a matter of getting back in shape, this healing up and Ill be ready togo.Green said he has also been doing off-ice workouts but isnot setting a timetable for his return to the lineup. He is two weeks into whatis expected to be a four to six-week recovery.I tried everything else not to have the surgery, and it just came to thepoint where it had to be done, Green said after skating for 25 minutes withstrength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish. I obviously didnt want to, but Ineed to come back and play and that was the only way to come back quicker.Capitals coach Dale Hunter said hes already noticed achange in Greens demeanor.I think hes real upbeat, Hunter said. Hes real gladwith the procedure, and hes a lot better than he was. He has a smile on hisface, which is a good thing.Meanwhile, Hunter said center Nicklas Backstrom is feelingbetter but is not quite ready to return to practice. Backstrom has been out ofthe lineup since Jan 3, when he took an elbow to the chin from Rene Bourque,who is now with the Montreal Canadiens, the Capitals next opponent onSaturday.
You cant rush these things, Hunter said of Backstrom, who hasmissed the past 12 games. Its a procedure he has to go through. It takes time.We want him back, but you cant rush things.