SUN Hockey Pool

Greene not so green anymore

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

His first season with the Edmonton Oilers was a blur.

The second was simply forgettable.

Now entering his third year, Matt Greene finds himself as one of the longest serving Oiler defencemen. With that, come lofty expectations.

"I'm definitely more comfortable this year than I was in my first two years," Greene said. "You have to have confidence coming into camp - I learned that my first year."

Greene, 24, played 27 games with the Oilers in the 2005-2006 season, joining the team midway through the year as a callup from the Iowa Stars of the AHL.

His rugged, defensive play kept him in Edmonton, and a year removed from playing college hockey at the University of North Dakota, Greene found himself playing in the Stanley Cup final.

Last season, he played 78 games, scoring his first and only NHL goal while adding nine assists as the Oilers failed to make the playoffs.

While his goal was a memorable one, it's Greene's physical and defensive play the Oilers are counting on this season. The Grand Ledge, Michigan, native will be paired with Sheldon Souray.

"It's awesome being paired with him; he's a real responsible player," Greene said. "He's taught me a lot already, in terms of just little tricks and watching him shoot the puck is always fun."

Greene, Steve Staios and Dick Tarnstrom were on the defensive unit that played in the final two seasons ago.

Joni Pitkanen and Denis Grebeshkov also joined the Oilers. It's such a solid group of blue-liners, the club is considering starting the year with eight of them.

"We're very happy with Souray and the way that he's played; we're very happy with Pitkanen and we're happy with the way Steve Staios has played with Pitkanen," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

"That will be a pair that starts and then we have some decisions to make. Grebeshkov is a guy that can really move the puck well. Matt Greene is a real good defender. Matt doesn't give you a whole lot of offence and Grebeshkov doesn't give you a whole lot of defence, but we're going to be in a position where hopefully we can help Denis with his defensive game. There are a lot of those subjective things that go into decision making in terms of who starts."


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