Wednesday’s practice report: Williams skates, Greene and Stoll are absent

Kings defenseman Matt Greene did not join his teammates for their hourlong practice Wednesday, and he is not expected to play in Thursday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. He has an undisclosed injury… Right wing Justin Williams returned to the practice rink one day after Kings coach Darryl Sutter went him to the dressing room midway through the workout because he couldn’t keep pace. … Williams skated on a line with center Anze Kopitar and left wing Dustin Brown. Their line was broken up by Sutter in Saturday’s game against the Nashville Predators. … Center Jarret Stoll continued to be sidelined by an unspecified upper-body injury. He was injured in Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the Predators.

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Best way to improve penalty-kill is to stop taking needless penalties

The Kings’ penalty-killing unit gave up two first-period power-play goals to the Nashville Predators during Saturday’s 4-3 loss. Coach Darryl Sutter later questioned the effectiveness of defensemen Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell, and even wondered about Jonathan Quick’s play in goal. The Kings have given up at least one power-play goal in six consecutive games.

The quality of the Kings’ penalties was lacking in the early going, however. Daniel Carcillo went to the box for kneeing on a play some 150 feet from his own net. Kyle Clifford followed him later after taking a boarding penalty in the neutral zone, more than 100 feet from his own goal.

“Those are penalties you don’t want,” team captain Dustin Brown said, speaking generally about penalties in the offensive and neutral zones rather than specifically about Carcillo’s and Clifford’s infractions. “We have to be smarter, that’s for sure. We’ve also got to kill penalties off at the end of the day.”

 

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Coach Darryl Sutter faults defenseman Matt Greene on late penalty kill

Kings coach Darryl Sutter pulled no punches when assessing blame for the team’s faulty penalty-kill in the closing seconds of their 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames on Monday night. Said Sutter: “Greener should have cleared it (the puck). He should have had it down the ice. He’s one of our top penalty killers. We had the (right) four guys on the ice, and we didn’t get the puck down the ice. It was a good shot (by Calgary’s T.J. Brodie).”

Greener, of course, is veteran defenseman Matt Greene.

“We need to be stronger on pucks, be better positionally and just (be better) on everything,” Greene said of the Kings’ penalty-kill. “If you give up three (power-play) goals in a game it is unacceptable and we have got to be better.”

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Kings coach Darryl Sutter thinking of tinkering with his Game 3 lineup

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.

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Dustin Penner back in the Kings’ lineup and Matt Greene out of it?

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.

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Are the Kings ready to defend their crown? It sure looks like it

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.

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Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin (part 3)

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.’”

 

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Matt Greene suffers no setbacks after his return to the Kings’ lineup

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.

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Defenseman Matt Greene talks about his return to the Kings’ lineup

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.

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Final: Kings 2, Blue Jackets 1

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.

 

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