... Also known as a full-time Matt Greene-Sheldon Souray defensive pairing:
There is a chance the 24-year-old will start the National Hockey League season next month partnered up with Sheldon Souray, the Oilers' $6-million man. They played together during exhibition games in Vancouver and Calgary and will probably see action as a duo against the Calgary Flames at Rexall Place on Wednesday.
Some observers may see Greene as little more than a sidekick, a safety valve for the new guy with the big shot and offensive leanings, but that's not giving Greene his due.
Though he still spends way too much time in the penalty box for unnecessary violations, he is gradually smoothing the roughest edges of his game and the Oilers seem ready to rely on him far more than they did even early last season.
That last line pretty much sums up why the Oilers are in for a rough year. Now, I should say that while I'm not a huge fan of Matt Greene, I certainly don't think the guy should be run out of town. It's clear that he has the toolbox to become a punishing defensive force on the blueline, and there are few other players in the Oilers system who duplicate the assets he brings. But no way is Greene consistent enough or dependable enough to play top-four minutes in a "safety valve" role. Christ, the kid doesn't even have the discipline to stay out of the penalty box in the pre-season.
I know Greene and Souray had a good outing against Calgary on Saturday and all, but pairing up your two slowest, most penalty-prone blueliners seems like a recipe for disaster. Who has the footspeed to make up for the other's mistakes? The thought of Souray and Greene getting caught on the ice as Smyth-Sakic-Hejduk or Iginla-Langkow-Tanguay hops over the boards is enough to send shivers down my spine.
In other news, the Oilers are playing the Phoenix Coyotes tonight at 8 p.m. MT. Here's how the teams are expected to line up:
Auld (expected to start)