Greene's grit has been a welcome addition

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

Matt Greene has an explanation for his negative plus-minus rating this season.

"It's not my guy," Greene joked yesterday after practice. "If you watch the tape, I'm always battling with my guy when other teams scores."

Greene has actually been even since returning to the Oilers lineup in mid-January after breaking his ankle.

But in 21 games this season he has a minus-five rating, with one assist.

He wasn't on the ice for any of Calgary's goals on Saturday.

"I never see when we get scored on because I'm always guarding my guy," he continued with encouragement from his standup sidekick, Marty Reasoner.

"I always go back to the bench and tell Charlie (Huddy) 'It's weird, because I was so busy guarding my guy. Then the horn (signaling a goal) went off. But I'm pretty sure I had my guy'. "

Greene has played well defensively in his return and has added much-needed toughness to the Oilers lineup. He got into a fight with Flames enforcer Eric Godard in Saturday's loss.

"We knew there was going to be some carryover from the game before," Greene said. "I don't think anybody expected a line brawl or anything like that.

"(The fight) just happened. It was like a playoff game. It was a big game for both teams. Both teams play well when we're energized. I think it was expected that there was going to be something to start the game."

Greene and Tom Gilbert share the same plus-minus rating, while Joni Pitkanen is best among Oilers defencemen at minus-one.

Denis Grebeshkov is minus-six, Ladislav Smid is minus-11 and Steve Staios is at minus-12.

Against the Flames, Gilbert was on the ice for three goals.

"He's just not getting back quick to the puck and when you lose that eighth of a second, it's the difference between them getting to the forecheck and us getting the puck past their forecheck," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish of his rookie defenceman.

"There could be a little bit of fatigue, but he just has to be more aggressive skating."


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