Matt Greene: The Face of the Kings Penalty Kill

(Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)
(Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)

Former University of North Dakota defensemen Matt Greene is on the cusp of winning his second Stanley Cup in three seasons. Naturally, UND hockey fans are watching Stanley Cup Final with interest, as the former Fighting Sioux captain is one win away from putting his name on Lord Stanley’s Cup for a second time.

The L.A. Kings lead New York Rangers 3-1 in the Stanley Cup Final and look to close out the Rangers in game five on Friday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA.

The rugged defenseman has become face of the Kings Stanley Cup run, literally. His left cheek has a huge bruise on it after he was struck in the face in game one of the Stanley Cup Finals. Greene needed about five stitches to close the gash under his left eye. Incidentally, Greene never missed a shift because of the facial laceration.

Rugged defenseman making an impact

Greene is the seventh defenseman on the Kings depth chart. However, the Kings have had a better overall record in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with Greene in the lineup. When the Grand Ledge, Michigan product is in the Kings lineup, they have an (11-8, .579) record. Without Greene, the Kings own a (3-3, .500) record.

Is this a coincidence? No clue.

Coincidence or not, the rugged defenseman has been a beast on the penalty kill. Through the first four games of the Stanley Cup Final, the New York Rangers have yet to score a power-play goal, and have gone 0-for-9 on the power-play. Greene’s play on the penalty kill has been a major factor.

Lisa Dillman of the L.A. Times sums up Greene’s play on the Penalty Kill.

Defenseman Matt Greene really is the face of the Kings’ penalty-killing unit.

Not the face, in terms of its No. 1 asset. That would be Kings defenseman Drew Doughty.

But Greene’s bloodied face could be considered the poster for the Kings’ penalty killers in the Stanley Cup Final.

Front of Kings net undesirable place

When Greene was at the University of North Dakota, opposition players didn’t like going in front of the UND net, especially when Greene was on the ice. Many opposition players met the patented Greene cross-check. Watching Greene play in the NHL, things really haven’t changed all that much since his days at North Dakota. With Greene on the ice, the front of the Kings net is an undesirable place to be.

The Kings’ penalty kill has been great in the Stanley Cup Final and Greene has been the anchor of that unit. Having his large frame parked in front of the net makes the area in front of Jonathan Quick undesirable real estate for opposing forwards. It also allows the Kings’ forwards up top to gamble and take risks knowing they have a stellar defensive force behind them to cover up any of their mistakes. (Rant Sports)

Greene is set to be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, and some have thought that Edmonton might be a logical landing spot for the former Oiler. Maybe, maybe not, but his age and injury history might be a concern for any team that pursues him.

Cult of Hockey, Jonathan Willis – It isn’t hard to figure out why: the injury list is brutal. Greene missed virtually the entire 2012-13 season with after suffering a back injury in his first game, missed 10 more games after coming back with an undisclosed injury and has since missed a total of 24 contests to the combined effects of an upper body injury and then a concussion.

There’s a long statistical explanation of the drop-off to be made (a quick glance at his underlying numbers shows clear problems) but there’s an easier way to demonstrate how he’s fallen off – a quick look at his playoff ice-time.

No matter what happens to Greene in the offseason, it’s been fun watching the former UND defenseman play for his second Stanley Cup in three seasons. The Kings are one win away from winning another Stanley Cup, and Greene has played a valuable role in the Kings run.