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Greene Out, Drewiske In

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
ST. LOUIS -- The Kings' defensive jinx appears to have struck again.

The Kings have had their full complement of defensemen available at the start of a game only three times (in 29 games) this season, and it won't happen tonight as Matt Greene is scheduled to miss the game against the St. Louis Blues.

Greene had to leave Monday's game against Detroit after the first period after a collision with Detroit's Niklas Kronwall. After that game, coach Terry Murray said Greene was fine and would be able to play against St. Louis. Greene even practiced on Wednesday.

Defenseman Matt Greene will unexpectedly be out of the lineup tonight against the Blues.
But Greene was not on the ice for Thursday's morning skate, and afterward, Murray said Greene ``still feels a little bit wobbly after that play the other night at Detroit.'' Murray said that Greene told him on Thursday morning that things weren't right.

``I'm not feeling that well,'' Greene said after the morning skate. ``It's probably about the same as yesterday, but I just thought it would get better with time. So far, it hasn't.''

In terms of Greene's short-term prognosis, and the next step in his evaluation, Murray said trainer Chris Kingsley will ``be in touch with our team doctor and kind of find out what need to be the next steps.'' The Kings next play on Saturday in Nashville.

Murray said Greene's unavailability surprised him.

``Yeah, it does,'' Murray said. ``After the conversations I had immediately after the game in Detroit the other night, and then through the day off -- we had the off-ice workout -- everything was great. I had a meeting, actually, with my leadership group upstairs, and he's a part of that, and everything was good. He practiced yesterday.''

Losing defensemen is nothing new to the Kings. Only three times this season have the Kings been able to start a game with the six defensemen they would choose to play. Coincidentally, the Kings won all three of those games.

Drewiske has been a healthy scratch in four of the Kings' previous five games, and in the one game he did play, Drewiske played on the wing on the fourth line.

Drewiske will partner with rookie Alec Martinez and play on the right side. Drewiske has been mostly effective for the Kings this season in a more physical, stay-at-home role.

``He's been out of the lineup for a few games now, and has had a lot of opportunity to get practice time in, and some review,'' Murray said. ``Yesterday afternoon, after the practice, we sat down and went through some clips with him, his clips in the last three or four games that he played. He's hungry to get back in. He's looking forward to the opportunity to play now, and he will step right in and I'm sure he will do a good job for us.''

The Kings are not expected to make any other lineup changes for tonight's game, and that means Oscar Moller will remain as the right winger on the second line.

``Oscar has been good,'' Murray said. ``He scored big goal the other night, obviously. He's a very courageous player for a smaller guy. He plays in the heavy going, he takes hits and he's involved. He has the right idea, now, on angling. His body positioning and his D-zone coverage is much improved. There are other parts of the game, sometimes, that he gets drifting a little bit away from what needs to get done, but that's a young player learning to figure out what the NHL game is all about on a consistent basis.

``But he's much improved from year one, and he's going to be a good player in the National Hockey League. There's no question. We said, from the day we sent him down from training camp, that he can play in the league right now somewhere.''

Murray said he intends to start backup goalie Jonathan Bernier on Saturday against Nashville, given that the Kings also have a game Sunday at Chicago,

Bernier has a good recent history against the Predators. He stopped 26 shots to beat them 4-1 on Nov. 6 at STAPLES Center and also shut out Nashville on the road in one of his three NHL starts last season.

Bernier will have gone 24 days between appearances by the time he plays Saturday.

``It's just time for Bernier to get in,'' Murray said. ``He's been working very hard at his game. He's been putting a lot of attention to practice. The goalie coaches have been around a couple times now, to give him a little refocus on some of the technical sides of the game, and he's ready to get playing.''

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