With Kyle Clifford seemingly on the mend and poised to rejoin the Los Angeles Kings’ lineup, Darryl Sutter was asked following the team’s skate what the rugged winger’s return would mean to the team.
“There hasn’t been any announcement that I’m aware of that he’s coming back,” Sutter answered.
There hasn’t been, and considering the tight-lipped nature of player availability during the playoffs, there almost certainly won’t be.
Clifford was still able to answer – in the hypothetical, of course – what he’d be able to provide to a Kings team that has had its depth tested much more acutely than it had last season.
“If that’s the case,” Clifford said about a potential lineup return, “then I think I’m going to bring a physical presence, just get pucks to the net, keep it simple, play hard and just get some bangs out there.”
Out of the lineup with an undisclosed injury since logging 8:47 of ice time in a 3-2 overtime win over St. Louis in Game 5 of the first round, Clifford has continued to keep the revolving door amongst the team’s left wings moving. He skated to the left of Colin Fraser and Brad Richardson at practice on Monday.
“It’s a position where we’ve rotated several left wingers for 57 games where we’ve had multiple left wingers in our lineup on every line,” Sutter said. “If he were available, then it would be another multiple left wing that we’ve done all year.”
BLUE LINE FOR GREENE?
Since the beginning of the playoffs, Matt Greene has been a near-mainstay at Los Angeles Kings practices since he suffered an undisclosed injury in a 3-1 loss to Detroit on April 24 that was unrelated to the back injury that kept him out of the lineup for 42 games from January 22 to April 16.
Greene took warm-ups prior to Game 3 in San Jose and appears to be a ready and willing option for Sutter, should the Kings choose to make a lineup change on defense.
“Well, we had him in warm-ups the other night. That’s the direction you go, is practice, contact, game day skates, in warm-ups. That’s always what you try and do. Obviously, with veteran guys, there are younger guys you’ve got to push, right? The difference between injured and hurt is something that sometimes you have to explain. But with the older guys, the veterans, the guys that you trust, there is [a point] where they make that decision because they know what it takes.”
Lineup changes are more of a certainty on the opposing bench even though Logan Couture, who missed time in Game 3 when he received a hit awkwardly along the boards from Jeff Carter, will be ready for Game 4. Martin Havlat did not return after the first period on Saturday and was ruled out of Tuesday’s game by coach Todd McLellan.
Though Adam Burish returned to practice on Monday, he’s not likely to rejoin the lineup until later in the series. With Raffi Torres suspended for the remainder of the series, defenseman Jason Demers skated as a forward at practice on Monday before joining the blue line for line rushes at today’s morning skate. He hasn’t played since suffering a foot injury in a win over Minnesota on April 18.
His presence affords McLellan some flexibility.
“We could put Demers in and play him both at forward and the back end, and rotate him around and then that would allow us to maybe use somebody else on the fourth line a little bit more, whether it’s Jumbo, Patty, whoever it might be. So, it’s certainly an option,” McLellan told reporters.