PHILADELPHIA -- His lower lip cut and swollen, Matt Greene joined the Edmonton Oilers yesterday looking ready to go.
And while he'll have to wait to make his NHL debut, perhaps against the New York Islanders or New Jersey Devils after being scratched against the Philadelphia Flyers last night, a fat kisser isn't the only indication the big blueliner is nearing primetime.
Word from the Oilers' scouting staff is the burly banger from the University of North Dakota has made a seamless transition to the AHL with the Iowa Stars, and that's why he got the call.
"I had a couple of false alarms already this year," smiled Greene of being summoned to The Show. "A couple of times guys were hurt, so I was kind of on standby.
"I didn't really believe it until I got on my flight. It's a great feeling. I feel like I've been playing well in Des Moines. I'll be excited if I get a shot on this road trip."
Greene, 22, hit the ice for yesterday's morning skate after tallying 2-4-6 with 34 penalty minutes in 23 games with Iowa, taking the roster spot vacated when Radek Dvorak was placed on injured reserve.
The six-foot-three, 225-pound Greene, clipped on the lip by the visor of a forward he was mowing down, gets his first sniff after waiting his turn behind Danny Syvret and Dan Smith.
"We want him to be as comfortable as he can," Craig MacTavish said. "So when he does get to play he'll have that degree of familiarity.
"He's played very well, otherwise we wouldn't have disrupted the routine for him."
At UND, the book on Greene was that he sometimes took himself out of position looking for the big hit. He's since learned to pick his spots without sacrificing the physicality that's the centrepiece of his game.
"That was something I needed to learn," he said. "In college, the skill level isn't as high. Here, if you try to run around, guys are going to put the puck by you and put it in the net.
"That was the biggest adjustment for me - when to play aggressive and when to play it cool.
"It's a different game altogether," Greene said. "In every kid's mind, you want to make the team right out of camp, but as soon as you get here you realize the adjustment it takes."