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Edmonton Oilers' Matt Greene knocks down Chicago Blackhawks' Matthew Barnaby during action earlier...

Edmonton Oilers' Matt Greene knocks down Chicago Blackhawks' Matthew Barnaby during action earlier this month at Rexall Place. Greene has impressed Oiler coaches with his physical play. (Edmonton Sun/Jason Franson)

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

He's still living in a hotel.

Yet Edmonton Oilers defenceman Matt Greene looks more settled than ever.

On Monday, Greene, 22, played in his sixth-straight game for the Edmonton Oilers.

He flattened Jiri Novotny in the second period, and pummelled Andrew Peters later in the shift.

Greene didn't bother waiting for Peters to get his gloves off before pounding on the Sabres tough guy.

"He speared me and asked me if I wanted to go," said Greene. "With a guy like that, I didn't want to second-guess him, so that's why I went and did it. I guess I kind of jumped the gun a little bit."

If anything, the native of Grand Ledge, Michigan, is a quick study.

In his second game with the Oilers, Greene squared off with Chicago Blackhawks enforcer Todd Simpson. On that night, Simpson got the jump on the Oilers rookie. Greene wasn't about to make the same mistake with Peters.

"I knew he was out there, and I knew that something was going to happen after that hit," Greene said. "He's a real tough guy, he's a lot more established than I am. And when a guy like that asks you to go, my first instinct was to do it as fast as I could and hopefully not get caught off balance like I was last time."

Officially, Greene got a double-minor for roughing. Peters was taken by surprise, didn't drop his gloves and simply tried to cover up.

"HE PLAYED UNREAL"

It was Greene's best shift in what turned out to be his strongest game with the Oilers.

"He played unreal," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "It was a great hit, those types of hits energize a bench. And then he made no bones of the fact he was ready to back it up when Peters came over."

It looks as though Greene is here to stay. He's been made the Oilers fifth defenceman with Igor Ulanov and Cory Cross rotating in as his partner.

"I've been really impressed with him," MacTavish said. "I like his character, I like his personality and I like his toughness. He's not hurting us positionally and he moves the puck well."

Normally it takes longer for defencemen to settle into the NHL. But Greene seems to have found the right formula. He's using his size to his advantage, laying out opponents every chance he gets. And at minus-1 he hasn't been a liability, although he has yet to register a point.

"He's a guy that has a lot of confidence in his play," said Cross. "He's coming up here with the attitude of going out to have fun and let the chips fall where they may.

LASTING IMPRESSIONS

"Everybody in this room has been in his position before and that's what helps you stay up here, doing the things right when you first come up and making a good first impression. That goes a long ways."

Greene was highly touted when the Oilers made him their fourth pick in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. After being recalled from the Iowa Stars of the AHL for the second time on Dec. 19, Greene sat in the press box for five games. He got into the lineup on Dec. 30 against the Nashville Predators. The Oilers haven't been able to get him out since.

If he keeps it up, Greene is going to have to find himself a permanent place to live here.

"I'm still living at Canterra Suites," said Greene. "Every day that I'm here, I'm having a ball. If that time comes where they tell me to get a place, it'll be a great day, but if it doesn't, I'll be hanging out at Canterra Suites."

NOTES: Oilers defenceman Igor Ulanov, who has missed the last four games with a knee injury, practised yesterday and will probably be a game-time decision when the team travels to San Jose to face the Sharks tomorrow night ... Goalie Mike Morrison, who was recalled on Sunday, may get a start on the Oilers road trip to San Jose and Phoenix.


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