Detroit Red Wings: Mike Green’s return signals an improvement

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 03: Mike Green #25 of the Detroit Red Wings skates with the puck followed by Ryan Strome #18 of the Edmonton Oilers during an NHL game at Little Caesars Arena on November 3, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 03: Mike Green #25 of the Detroit Red Wings skates with the puck followed by Ryan Strome #18 of the Edmonton Oilers during an NHL game at Little Caesars Arena on November 3, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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Mike Green, a popular defenseman for the Detroit Red Wings, began the season on the injury list. While he was out battling a virus, his hockey team has started at a dismal clip. He returned on October 26, and since then, the Wings have picked up six points in the standings.

The Detroit Red Wings have certainly been thin on defense this year. Seemingly every defenseman has had to miss at least a game or two at some point of the season. In fact, no defender has played every game; through 14 games, Nick Jensen leads the team with 13 played. Few defenders were more missed than Mike Green. The 33-year old was subject to scrutiny last season when it looked like he may be traded. Ultimately, his contract with the Red Wings was renegotiated to mixed reviews. For as excellent of a player as he may be, many thought it might be the best time to make an offer on him. Others were relieved to resign him.

Like it or not, the fantastic defender is finally back with the Red Wings, and it is a welcome sight. His is a recognizable name and should excite fans. For quite some time now, he has been known for his offensive prowess. He has led all defenders in goals three times, including the 2008-09 season where he netted an incredible 31, the most by a player in his position in fifteen years. Since his October 26 return, the Wings have been on a bit of a tear, picking up three straight wins.

Does Mike Green deserve all the credit for the recent Red Wings surge? Of course not. Instead, it is a happy coincidence he returned when he did. Without a doubt, though, his return has made some bit of impact. He has picked up right where he left off last season in terms of ice time, clocking 21 minutes. Statistically, he has added an assist in three of the last four games—the three Red Wings wins. Though he has yet to score a goal this year, he is putting enough shots on the net they are bound to start going in soon.

Instead, Green’s return has likely had more of an intangible effect on the team’s success. The Red Wings have a very young defensive core, and Green is an excellent leader for them. He is a veteran presence who, as evidenced by his contract, still has some good years left. Plus he adds an offensive depth which opponents must take into consideration. He takes some of the pressure off other scorers. Simply put, Green makes the Red Wings better when he is on the ice.

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Just because Mike Green is back, does not automatically turn the Detroit Red Wings a playoff contender. One player alone does not make for a winning team. But they are a step closer to the team they should be.