Kyle Clifford has gone from low to high during these first 10 days of 2012. Clifford’s play, in general, seems to have picked up greatly since Darryl Sutter took over, but Clifford had a rough moment at the end of the Jan. 2 game against Colorado, when his turnover led directly to the Avalanche’s overtime goal. Sutter stayed with Clifford though, and publicly praised him, and it paid off last night, when Clifford had a goal and an assist and played a strong all-around game in the victory over Washington. It’s not always easy for young players — Clifford turns 21 on Friday — to put mistakes behind them, but Clifford said he was able to turn the page quickly.
CLIFFORD: “Everybody makes mistakes. That was a tough one and you’ve got to learn from it. With the kind of character guys we have in here, some guys make mistakes and everybody picks each other up. We just keep moving forward. That’s our whole mindset, is moving forward.’’
Sutter expressed similar sentiments and also talked about Clifford’s development…
SUTTER: “He made one mistake. I played with guys who made 10 mistakes a game and were still the coach’s darling. He did it once. I talked to him after the game, that night. It’s a play that I totally trust in him, because of the style of game. It can’t happen again and it won’t happen again. You’ve got to appreciate that and build on it. Heck, he was a pretty good player for us (against Phoenix in the next game), a strong player. That line, any time we needed a little bounce-back, that line did a good job for us. I told him, even in that (Colorado) game, when everybody was talking about the mistake, I said, `You gave us eight-and-a-half minutes, and every shift you had two takeouts.’ Every shift. Nobody notices that except the guys in the room.
“Maybe he wasn’t quite as ready as everyone thought last year. He’s just finding his way again, and we’ve got to show him how to do that, instead of criticizing him for that. … He’s a good kid, and he’s going to get better. If you throw him out with the dishwater, after that one play, I don’t see anybody taking his place who can (play like) that.’’