The Kings’ once rock-solid defense continues to absorb body blows like a heavyweight fighter. Already without the services of arguably their best blueliner during the second half of last season, Willie Mitchell, now comes word that Matt Greene is out and not likely to play tomorrow night vs. the Colorado Avalanche.
So, enter Jake Muzzin. He of 11 games of NHL experience.
Muzzin made his debut with the Kings back in October 2010 vs. Vancouver. However, he was soon sent to Manchester, where he’s spent the last two seasons preparing for this moment.
“It’s everybody’s (dream), you want to play in the NHL,” said Muzzin following practice today. “You work to play in the NHL. So to be here and to get a chance to play – I just want to go out and keep it simple, play my game and hopefully play well, continue to play well. And stay the rest of the year.”
He also was quick to point out that nothing is official yet – “They haven’t told me anything yet, but I would think if Greener’s out, that I would play tomorrow in Colorado and we’ll take it from there.”
As for Greene’s status, Darryl Sutter was rather vague when asked for any information, noting only that he went to the doctor with a “mid-body” injury. After being asked when it took place, the coach said – “During the game. He’s one of the guys that played hard for us, so there was a chance that he was going to get banged up.”
Things became a little more clear later in the afternoon after the club placed Greene on injured reserve (retroactive to January 19) and recalled Andrew Bodnarchuk from Manchester to replace his spot on the roster. Then, reports started to spread that Greene would likely miss the remainder of the season with a back injury, something confirmed in a tweet by LA Times writer Lisa Dillman when she noted that GM Dean Lombardi told her Greene was “out for the year probably.”
Taking nothing away from Dillman, she’s a fine writer – and not challenging what Lombardi said, he would know best – it is worth pointing out though that we were told different information by our sources.
When MayorsManor asked, it was estimated Greene would be out 6-12 weeks, depending on how he heals. It remains unclear at the moment if he’s having surgery.
Certainly, if it’s the full 12 weeks that would be close to the entire regular season (there would be about seven games or 15% of the schedule left). Yet, a return in six weeks would mean missing less than half the season. Thus, we’ll probably need to see how things develop over the next day or two to get a better read on the situation.
For now, the only thing the club has said about the injury is – “Matt Greene was placed on IR today due to a mid-body injury. As for recovery time-frame, we plan for the worst and hope for the best.”
[UPDATE: We posted a further update on Greene here later in the day]
There’s also the matter of Mitchell, who took an initial twirl on his injured knee last Friday (see his in-depth interview here) and then skated in full practice today.
Sutter provided this update on that situation – “Every day he’s, you know – he’s going to have a pain issue. That’s going to be part of the deal, so he just has to deal with it. Now we have to get him up to speed. He hasn’t done anything other than skating lightly, so this was his first day (back).”
Mitchell confirmed he would be traveling with the team. But, it’s still not known when he’ll play though.
“It was nice to skate out there with the guys,” said Mitchell. “Playing hockey is fun, working out is not so (fun)…The longer the lockout went you got tired of working out, you get tired of riding the bike, you get tired of all that training. It’s like running a marathon and you get to the last mile, the home-stretch there and they just keep extending the marathon for you. There’s no end in site. So just to get out with the guys and skate and do a full practice is – that’s what we miss, that’s what we love to do. So it was nice to get out there with the guys.”
Better yet, he was able to do so without any pain.
“It felt good. I didn’t get into any major battle drills, that’ll probably be the next step. But so far so good,” he reported. “No (pain) today. The worry is not what I’m going to do, it’s just hopefully the inflammation stays out of the knee. That’s kind of what happened last time and that set me back. Don’t want to talk to you guys too long. There’s an ice bag waiting for me.”
Finally, Muzzin was working with the power play group during practice today. Look for more on that story next hour.
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