Higher-profile role for Clifford - LA Kings Insider

The big “winner,” in terms of today’s Kings line shuffling, would seem to be Kyle Clifford, who jumped from a fourth-line role to a spot on the second line alongside center Michal Handzus and right winger Dustin Brown. Clifford previously skated with Handzus on the third line, so there will be some built-in familiarity there, but really, Clifford’s move is about what he has been doing on the ice. The coaching staff has been pleased with Clifford’s play and results, and it probably doesn’t hurt that Clifford has shown a willingness to drop the glove and defend himself and teammates, often. Today, I asked Terry Murray if Clifford’s part in the line shifting should be seen as a positive reflection on the rookie…

MURRAY: “Very positive. He has grown tremendously over the early part of the season here. He’s really maturing into a complete hockey player. He brings that grit and hard play. He can make plays. He goes to the net. He can shoot the puck. There are a lot of real positive things that a 19-year-old is showing out there right now, so it is a spot that, in my opinion, he deserves to be there right now. I’m going to leave him there for a bit. If it starts to be a bit of a concern, later on, I can always move him back down and let him relax and play at a lower level. Richie will go back into the lineup, and he would be my option up there, if necessary.”