Matt Greene returned to the Kings' lineup last week for the first time… (Harry How / Getty Images )
The Kings, who are still hoping to finish as high as fourth in the West but could drop to fifth or sixth, won’t have Matt Greene in their lineup for their season finale Saturday night at Staples Center.
Coach Darryl Sutter said Greene’s injury isn’t long-term but Sutter wouldn’t specify the nature of the injury Greene suffered during the Kings’ 3-1 loss at Detroit on Wednesday. Sutter did say that the injury was not related to the back woes that led Greene to undergo surgery after playing in the season opener.
Greene, perhaps the team’s most physical defenseman and a leader in the locker room, returned on April 18 and played four games. He will be replaced on Saturday by Keaton Ellerby, who has done a solid job since the Kings acquired him from Florida on Feb. 8 to fill in for Greene and the injured Willie Mitchell.
Ellerby had been pushed out of the lineup by Greene’s return, but Sutter paired him with Jake Muzzin in Saturday’s morning skate.
“He’s played good for us,” Sutter said of Ellerby. “He can play both sides, which is rare. It’s hard to get guys to do that, guys who are capable of doing that.”
Ellerby is averaging 14 minutes and 15 seconds’ ice time in 34 games with the Kings and has a +4 defensive rating. Overall, including eight games he played for Florida, he’s +2 and is averaging 14:27.
“It’s not fun sitting out,” he said, “but the team was winning games and you’ve just got to be supportive and do what you can, I guess, off the ice, to help the team win and be a good team guy. Support them and that kind of thing.
“It’s not fun but now that I’m back in, it’s exciting. There’s no funner games than ones like this where it’s a conference game, same state, looking to see where teams get seeded in the playoffs. It’s going to be an intense game and I’m excited for it.”
Speaking of playoff seedings, some of the dozen playoff possibilities the Kings faced Saturday morning should be ruled out by the time the puck drops for the Kings and Sharks t Staples Center at 7:30 p.m.
The St. Louis Blues, currently in fourth place, will play host to the Chicago Blackhawks in a game scheduled to start at 5 p.m. Pacific time. The Blackhawks were planning to rest most of their regulars, so the Blues should have a huge edge.
A win by the Blues -- whether in regulation, overtime or shootout -- will leave the Kings and Sharks to fight for fifth place. Whoever finishes fifth will open at St. Louis, and the sixth-place finisher will start at Vancouver against the third-seeded Canucks.
A loss by the Blues would give the Kings a chance to finish fourth. If the Blues lose in overtime or a shootout and get a point but the Kings get two points, the Kings would finish fourth because they hold the tiebreaker.