The phrase “heart and soul” has become so overused when describing players that it is now a cliché, but it still describes Los Angeles Kings’ defenseman Matt Greene to a tee. Greene does everything in the game that does not show up on the score sheet. When it comes to hitting, blocking shots and clearing the crease, few do it much better than the former University of North Dakota captain.
When Greene arrived in Los Angeles with Jarret Stoll in 2008, it signaled a shift in culture for the team Dean Lombardi was still assembling. Stoll and Greene bring physicality and defensive acumen every night, and their arrival coincided with the Kings’ gradual improvement in the standings.
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.
Nowhere was Greene’s impact on the game more apparent than during Game 1 after getting stitched up, returning to the ice without missing a shift. Greene’s bloodied face reflected the Kings’ workman-like approach, in that regardless of the physical toll, they will keep on rolling.
While Greene has not been without his faults in the Final, he has played his game and used his physicality and tenacity to complement his more skilled teammates. With Game 4 and a possible Stanley Cup Final sweep over the New York Rangers a very real possibility, the Kings will owe a lot to players like Greene, who do the so-called “little things” that surely add up.
In the Kings’ case they will but assuredly “add up” to another Stanley Cup.