It might sound strange considering the Kings’ lack of scoring during losses to the St. Louis Blues in the first two games of their first-round playoff series, but coach Darryl Sutter said Friday he’s considering playing defenseman Matt Greene in Game 3 on Saturday. Greene was scratched for the first two games of the best-of-7 series. Greene also isn’t exactly an offensive threat, what with two career playoff goals in 50 games.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter said left wing Dustin Penner would return to the lineup for Saturday’s game against the San Jose Sharks and that defenseman Matt Greene might be sidelined for the regular-season finale at Staples Center.
Penner was scratched for the Kings’ loss Wednesday to the Red Wings in Detroit, but was skating with right wing Justin Williams and center Jarret Stoll during Friday’s practice at the team’s El Segundo training facility.
The Kings won’t win the Western Conference or the Pacific Division. The best they can do is finish fourth in the conference and second in the division. But with only three regular-season games remaining before they begin their Stanley Cup championship defense, it would be difficult to find a team playing better then the Kings are at the moment.
Jake Muzzin conducted a wide-ranging interview with reporters after Saturday’s practice in El Segundo. He fielded a variety of questions, perhaps the most intriguing of which centered on his ability to make the most of an opportunity to play with the Kings after prolonged injuries to veteran defenseman Matt Greene (back) and Willie Mitchell (knee).
Here’s some of what the rookie defenseman had to say:
“I know I have to continue playing well, and continue working and getting better, and I have lots to improve on and stuff like that. With these new guys coming in and old guys coming back in, it’s good for the team. It’s a competitive environment in here, which brings the best out in all the guys. I just have to continue working and getting better, and hopefully I continue playing with ‘Greener.’”
Here’s what he said when asked about forming a defense pair with Greene:
“Well, we all know what ‘Greener’ brings to the table. He’s a big, physical guy. Simple, hard working. So I just want to continue working hard, being physical like I have been and moving pucks. Hopefully, I contribute on the power play and just continue moving here.”
Here’s what he said when asked about feeling more settled with the Kings:
“I feel a little bit more comfortable. I mean, when you’re first here, you don’t want to make a mistake because you feel like you may be sent down or out of the lineup and stuff like that. But the game’s full of mistakes, and you have to play like you’re not afraid, right? You’re going to make mistakes, so you might as well go out and play. I have kind of settled down a little bit in that aspect of the game and I have to continue with that, actually. You’ve got to play confident and comfortable out there. You’re going to make more mistakes if you were trying to play, like, “Oh, I’m scared not to make a mistake.’”
After a day off after his first game since Jan. 19, Kings defenseman Matt Greene reported no setbacks following Saturday’s practice. Greene played a regular shift in Thursday’s victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets, his first game after suffering a back injury that required surgery. Greene wasn’t all that impressed with his play Thursday, which impressed Kings coach Darryl Sutter on Saturday.
Kings defenseman Matt Greene had two shots on net and five hits in 22 shifts over 16 minutes, 15 seconds in his first game Thursday night after sitting out 42 following back surgery in January. He spoke after the Kings’ grind-it-out 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets about his return to the active roster.
The Kings welcomed Matt Greene back to their lineup for a gritty 2-1 victory over the scalding Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night at Staples Center, looking whole again after 42 games without their veteran defenseman.
It would have made for a better story if Greene scored the go-ahead goal on an end-to-end rush that lifted the Kings to a victory in another in a string of nerve-jangling games. But that’s not his style of play and that’s certainly not what the Kings ask of him.
Defenseman Drew Doughty and enforcer Kyle Clifford scored the Kings’ goals, helping them to end the Blue Jackets’ five-game winning streak. Dalton Prout scored the Blue Jackets’ only goal, his first in the NHL in his 30th game, as Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick made 20 saves.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Kings (25-14-5) didn’t need highlight-reel caliber plays from Greene to stay in front of the San Jose Sharks in the fight for fourth place and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Slow and steady saved the day.
“You want to see how your back holds up,” Greene said of playing for the first time since he hurt his back Jan. 19, and required surgery. “You can do as many exercises as you want, but it all comes down to being physical and battling. If I can’t battle in the corners, I’m pretty much useless.”
It was Kings coach Darryl Sutter’s wish to have Greene play as many games as possible before the playoffs begin April 30. Sutter hoped Greene might be fit to play in Tuesday’s game against the Sharks in San Jose, a shootout loss, but it didn’t happen.
Greene practiced with his teammates Wednesday and when he woke up feeling fine Thursday, the Kings activated him from injured reserve just before they took the ice for their morning skate. He received a fine ovation when he hit the ice for his first shift against the Blue Jackets.
Defenseman Matt Greene, who injured his back during the Kings’ season-opening game Jan. 19 against the Chicago Blackhawks, returned to the active roster Thursday after sitting out 42 games. The Kings activated him from injured reserve, announcing the move before the team’s morning skate. The team faced the Columbus Blue Jackets later in the evening at Staples Center. Greene was cleared Monday for his full-contact practice since he was hurt. Coach Darryl Sutter hoped Greene could play in Tuesday’s game against the San Jose Sharks, a loss at HP Pavilion. After a practice Wednesday, the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings activated the 29-year-old Greene on Thursday. Sutter said he hoped Greene could play three or four games in preparation for the playoffs, which begin April 30.
The Kings played almost all of the lockout-shortened season without veteran defensemen Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell. Greene could be back soon after undergoing back surgery after playing one game. Mitchell is out for the duration after undergoing two knee surgeries. Their absence created a void and young players Keaton Ellerby and Jake Muzzin filled in capably, giving the Kings the sort of boost they needed to stay competitive.
Defenseman Matt Greene reached another milestone in his rehabilitation and recovery from back surgery Monday when he participated in his first full-contact practice with his teammates. Kings coach Darryl Sutter said Greene was given medical clearance and would travel with the team to San Jose for Tuesday’s game against the Sharks.
“I was hoping, well, not hoping but originally, I wanted him to play tomorrow but that’s not the case,” Sutter said. “That was his first (day of contact), yeah. I don’t think there a real answer. It’s more how he responds to it. If you have a day where you have a setback, then it’s all back. There’s no way of saying, ‘That’s the day.’ “
Said Greene of his back: “It’s the same. It’s the same as when I talked to you guys last week. I am going to travel. It’s just the same thing, skate and rehab. That’s not going to change. … They haven’t told me anything (new), just keep skating. The team’s playing well. If they need me I’ll get back in the lineup. That’s the most I’ve done just because we finally got a chance to do a full practice. The guys are playing every other night and it’s tough to get somebody willing to do some contact. It’s good to get out there today with two days between games. You’ve got to play without fear.”
Greene was injured in the Kings’ loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on opening day Jan. 19.