The Los Angeles Kings blue line was given a boost Thursday when Matt Greene was activated after going down with an injury during the Stanley Cup Champions’ first game of the season.
Greene missed the last 42 games out with a back injury against the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 19, and his absence was certainly felt during this short season where rosters are stretched incredibly thin.
Los Angeles is currently fighting for the fourth seed in the Western Conference with the San Jose Sharks, and it can be argued that much of their early struggles were due to the absences of Greene and veteran defenseman Willie Mitchell. The Kings are tied with the Sharks with 53 points through 43 games this season.
Blue line problems seemed to be dooming the Kings until they were able to acquire Keaton Ellerby and Robyn Regehr at the trade deadline. Drew Doughty started the first 28 games of the season without a goal, but has four goals in the last six games, and rookie defenseman Jake Muzzin is starting to look comfortable with his expanded role. With Greene back in the lineup, Los Angeles can only benefit from the defensive depth.
It looks like the Kings will be, literally, making a title defense this year. The strength and grit of their blue line will once again allow them to make a deep push into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
John Engel is a Pac-12 college basketball writer for Rant Sports and also works for ESPNLA 710 Am radio in Los Angeles. Follow John on Twitter: @engelsportsguy.