From #2 Matt Greene to #77 Jeff Carter, we're reviewing the 11-12 season for each member of the Stanley Cup Champs. Be sure to cast your vote and give us your thoughts in the comments.
#2 / Defenseman / Los Angeles Kings
May 13, 1983
Rankings among Kings defensemen who appeared in at least 40 games. 6 qualified.
Each abbreviation features a clickable link that takes you to a brief explanation.
The 2011-12 season was Matt Greene's finest to date. As usual he saw 3rd pair minutes and faced relatively easier competition than his cohorts, but managed better numbers this year than in years past. He set career highs in shot and point totals while reducing his PIM to the lowest of his career. In addition, he was one of the more effective penalty killers on the team.
His possession numbers have no doubt been given a boost by being paired with Alec Martinez (an offensive minded, puck moving defenseman). Martinez has the stronger shot differentials of the two (in fact, Martinez is the league leader), but Greene was given tougher assignments. He faced more difficult competition while also starting more of his shifts in the defensive zone than any other defenseman on the team. In spite of this, he still finished 9th in the NHL among defensemen in adjusted shot attempt differential (ZSAC)--also the number was a career best.
Aside from a more difficult role, his numbers aren't at Alec Martinez's level because he spent a lot of time this season paired with Jack Johnson. Johnson is infamous for having very poor possession numbers and this year was no different. It is then interesting to note that when Johnson was paired with Greene this season he was actually a plus player (51.7% ZSAC). When Johnson was paired with anyone else, he was in the red (47% ZSAC). That being said, Greene probably shouldn't get all the credit for this spike in Johnson's numbers. It is probable that when they were paired together they saw pretty soft minutes as compared to when Johnson was paired with Scuderi.
Matt Greene Year-by-Year
As the years have worn on, his minutes have steadily declined as the Kings added defensive depth. Along with that, he has also seen a steady decline in the quality of opponents he's faced while still starting the majority of his shifts in the defensive zone. Even though his possession numbers were the best of his career this season, they were not remarkable in comparison to the rest of the team. Still, given his role as a defensive minded defenseman, he is not expected to be relied upon to drive play. His role has been that of a stay-at-home guy, a job that he has done well enough to not hurt the team.
In the playoffs, he was used in the same role as he was in regular season. He continued to post strong possession numbers and spent a lot of time killing penalties. He was also able to pitch in more points than usual and even scored a big shorthanded, game winner in Game 1 against the Blues.
All this being said, at a $2.95mm cap hit, he is still probably a bit overpaid for a 3rd pair, penalty killing defenseman. Especially when you consider that Rob Scuderi and Willie Mitchell only make a fraction more yet receive much more difficult assignments. For this reason, we have a hard time giving Greene the highest of grades in spite of a career year.
JFTC Report Card: B. Matt Greene is a solid defensive defenseman who did more to help his team than hurt it this season. How will he do in a few years if he is asked to take on an aging Willie Mitchell or Rob Scuderi's more difficult assignments? Will he be able to continue cut down on his penalties or was this year only an anomaly? Only time will tell, but this year has been an encouraging one for the 29 year old defenseman.