Birthday boy Clifford gets promotion

Kyle Clifford turned 20 today, and now that he’s no longer a teenager, perhaps he’s ready for some increased responsibilities… Clifford will be in a top-six role for the first time — at least at the start of game — tonight when the Kings host St. Louis, and Clifford’s rookie season has been a steady climb. He started as a part-time player, scratched from four of the first seven games, then became a fourth-line regular and played himself up into a third-line role. Now, he’s on the second line, with Michal Handzus and Dustin Brown. I asked Terry Murray this morning if he wanted, or needed, Clifford to alter his game in any way when playing in a top-six role…

MURRAY: “We just want him to be able to go out and play his instinctive game. It’s getting better by the week. His gritty play, his physical play, is important, and that’s the way it will always be. His composure with the puck, to have it on his stick for long periods of time, to carry it, to see the ice and make plays, that’s what we will need from him on that line To me, he’s getting better with it as time goes on.”

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