It took Mike Green just under 35 minutes to re-write the record books. The Caps defenseman has been red hot lately, leading all NHL players in goals over the past few weeks. Last night, he put himself in a position no other rearguard has ever been.
Eight straight games with a goal. A new NHL record, which will likely stand for awhile. As previously noted by FEAR THE WEAGLE, Mike O'Connell set the record at seven games in the 83-84 season with the Boston Bruins. Other notable defensemen on the list were Ray Bourque (7) and Bobby Orr (6).
A throng of Capitals came off the bench to celebrate the monumental achievement set by the 23 year old blue liner, and his father David was also in attendance. Green had a chance for back-to-back multi-goal games, but rang one off the post in the third.
However, Green was not the only one setting records last night.
Michael Neuvirth - a Caps rookie - probably never thought he'd get a sniff of NHL action this season. An ECHL All-Star with the Capitals affiliate South Carolina Stingrays, Neuvirth was recalled by the Hershey Bears when both Darren Machesney and Simeon Varlamov were unable to suit up due to injury. While in Chocotown, Michael posted a modest 4-3-2 record with a 3.03 GAA and .890 SV%.
When it became clear that Brent Johnson was hampered by a season ending hip injury, Washington was forced to turn to their young net minders to play in spot duty down the stretch. Varlamov would have most likely gotten the call for last night as he already has two NHL games under his belt this year with a 2-0-0 record. Varlamov however, is still ailing from a knee ligament injury, which he hopes to return from this week. The Capitals took a chance with Neuvirth hoping for the best.
Last night, Neuvirth looked calm, cool and collected, stopping 23 shots en route to a 5-1 Washington victory. The win marks Neuvirth's first of his NHL career, and hopefully one of many in his young career.
It seems as though the Capitals future in goal looks bright with both Varlamov and Neuvirth showing the ability to play at the NHL level at a young age. The test will be if they can carry a heavier load in the years to come, with successful results.
GM George McPhee has been unclear about any plans in goal past this season, saying only he plans to spell now starter Jose Theodore with Neuvirth and Varlamov. It is unclear whether or not they will re-sign Brent Johnson through next season, or give his job to one (or both) of these young net minders.
But the main story of last night's action was the play of Mike Green. We at FEAR THE WEAGLE would like to extend our congratulations to Mike on a milestone that may never be eclipsed again. He is definitely now looking as a legitimate Norris Winner, and we wish him the best.
Green will try to extend his record to nine games as the Caps take on the Panthers tonight.