Defenseman Matt Greene could give the Los Angeles Kings a huge lift by coming back from back injury.
Greene is an outstanding penalty killer. He sets a tone with his physical play and he helps maintain order in the defensive zone.
But Greene hasn’t been cleared for contact, so he has been relegated to skating off to the side while continuing his recovery. Time is running out for him to get back into the Kings’ mix.
If Greene can’t return to duty before the end of the regular season, coach Darryl Sutter would be unlikely to deploy him during the playoffs.
“Quite honestly, if he's not ready to play three or four games and if we made the playoffs, I'd have trouble putting him in, for sure,” Sutter told the Los Angeles Daily News. “He's only played a few minutes all year. It's not about what you did, it's about what you're doing.
“It's very simple. He's going to have to play three or four games. Otherwise, I would not be comfortable with it. You're not going to have a guy who can just play a handful of minutes. Greene's specialty is he's a physical player and he's a good penalty-killer.
“A lot of it is conditioning. Until he gets contact and we're kind of in the let's-get-going mode . . . otherwise, he's going to have trouble. He hasn't been cleared for any of that.”