After today’s skate, Darryl Sutter indicated that he would wait until warmups to decide whether to play Kyle Clifford or Brad Richardson as the fourth-line left winger tonight. If the skate was any indication, Clifford was off the ice and in the team meeting, while Richardson stayed out for extra work. If Clifford plays tonight, he would be returning after a one-game absence as a healthy scratch. Clifford went through a rough series of games, with a handful of mental and physical errors, but Sutter likes Clifford’s game and would like to see him stay within himself, and not try to do too much in his fourth-line role alongside Colin Fraser and Jordan Nolan.
SUTTER: “He’s got a role. He’s got a clear role, and if that role slips, then he becomes a good American league player. That’s clear. You have to make clear to him what his role is. It’s the same as a captain or a physical defenseman. As soon as they step out of that role — and young guys do it all the time — you have to reinforce it. You’ve got to be patient with them, but there’s also a point where it’s easier for them to see it (as a scratched player). Then, a lot of times, it comes back. A lot of guys his age are playing in the American league, or in school.
“It’s no different than a guy like Brownie. A guy like Brownie gets away from his game (he has to look at), `What’s his identity? What’s his role?’ It’s just at a different level, but it’s the same thing. When they struggle, that’s usually why. They’re trying to get outside of it, and a lot of times, it’s without them even knowing.’’