Another box on the rehabilitation to-do list is waiting for Kings defenseman Matt Greene to diligently check off.
Thursday might be the biggest day so far for him. If all goes well, Greene could participate in limited contact during the morning skate.
Greene has sat out all but one game this season because of back surgery for a herniated disk. With the Kings having returned from Dallas in the early-morning hours, they stayed off the ice Wednesday, leaving Greene to go through his paces under the watch of assistant coach John Stevens.
His goal for Thursday’s session with contact will be simple.
“Try to get out here with some practices with these guys and see how it feels to get bumped around, maybe to give a hit,” Greene said. “That’s when the real conditioning comes into play, when you can get physical in the corners and still not be gassed.
“It’s just so tough right now. There’s not a lot of spots between games to get some good practices in. But I’m sure the coaches will figure out something.”
Greene resumed skating when the Kings were in the early part of their five-game trip late last month. He said there has been progress in the last two weeks.
“Everything loosens up a little more,” he said. “It’s just like coming off any injury. There’s always stiffness the more stuff you do, the more you get ramped up; it gets a little stiffer, a little heavier. But it’s feeling good right now.”
He has been greatly missed for his penalty killing, his steady stay-at-home temperament and dry sense of humor. The players have given Greene kudos for his encouragement behind the scenes.
“I don’t tell them anything,” he said. “These guys get enough coaching. They’re all good enough too. ... Guys don’t need it from anybody else that’s not around the team. Just be there for a pat on the [butt] more than anything else.”
The collapse may have come in the third period, but Coach Darryl Sutter said the problems were not limited to that stretch in Dallas on Tuesday night.
“Our top guys struggled the whole game, really,” Sutter said of the 5-1 loss to the Stars. “That was the top two lines; both had a real rough night, quite honest. It didn’t really fall off.”
The schedule will ease, finally, after Saturday’s game against the Ducks.
“Talking to the guys today about practicing or not practicing, basically you’re asking them, ‘What do you guys think?’ ” Sutter said. “In the old days, we’d come home and they’d be on the ice working on stuff for an hour. But I understand the schedule and you have to be able to adjust.”
Where: Staples Center.
On the air: TV: Ch. 13; Radio: 1150.
Record vs. Avalanche: 1-1.
Etc.:Paul Stastny, who sat out eight games because of an injured foot, was scheduled to return Saturday night against the Ducks.