From opening day to the end of April, the Los Angeles Kings' dressing room was quieter. They are not a chatty bunch to begin with, and when defenseman Matt Greene was gone, his deep tone was noticeably absent.

"He's a big voice in the locker room, and when he was missing this year, you could really feel it in the atmosphere in the dressing room," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "It's not something that is necessarily needed to play well, but it lightens the atmosphere and it keeps things loose, which is a big part of a season and the playoffs. It can't be serious all the time. We certainly missed him in that way, and certainly what he brings to us on the ice. We've missed his experience and leadership."

Greene was popular topic a day after L.A. took a 3-2 series lead in the best-of-7 Western Conference Semifinals against the San Jose Sharks. In his second game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Greene had a booming impact in the form of a hit on Sharks forward T.J. Galiardi to send a strong message in the first period of a 3-0, Game 5 win Thursday.
Greene is a quintessential Kings role player who won't show up much on the statistics sheet, but his insertion back in the lineup gives L.A. a renewed identity born from last season's Stanley Cup run. From the back end of the defense, Greene generates respect that reflects his flash-free physical style. He wears an "A" for a reason.

"When he comes back, I think the things that you guys don't see -- the leadership in the dressing room -- that powerful voice," forward Mike Richards said. "All year we missed him on the ice, too, just how physical he plays and how hard he is to play against. Even before we got [Robyn] Regehr, too, I think that's kind of what we were lacking on the back end.

"We've got some skilled guys and guys that move the puck well but I don't think you can replace somebody who plays that physical and how hard both of those guys are to play against, and Matt coming back is a big boost for us, and I think you can just see how different a team we are with him in the lineup just setting the tone physically."

Greene was largely forgotten. He played in an opening-day loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 19 and it was later revealed he needed surgery Jan. 24 to repair a herniated disk in his back. He returned April 18 and played four games, but coach Darryl Sutter didn't feel he was sharp enough. By then the Kings acquired Regehr, a Greene clone, in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres.

Greene tried not to get down. He quietly skated with the extras for the first nine games of the postseason and waited for the call.