Kings coach Darryl Sutter didn’t answer definitively when asked after Friday’s victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets whether the Kings’ best line was Kyle Clifford and any two teammates playing alongside of him. Sutter praised Clifford, who scored the team’s first goal and is halfway to his career high of 14 points in a season after only 12 games.
“We just need his energy,” Sutter said after the Kings’ grinding 2-1 victory over the Blue Jackets. “We need his physical presence. If you look at it, he’s not even had a shot a game and we’ve been talking to him about shooting pucks more instead of looking off (and passing). If you shoot the puck, sometimes good things happen.”
Clifford continues in his role as the Kings’ enforcer and one of their most-feared hitters, but he’s earned additional playing time because he’s been so productive. He benefited by playing several games with the Ontario Reign of the ECHL during the NHL lockout, playing on the power play at times during his stay in the Inland Empire.
“Yeah, maybe I should start the year there every year,” he joked when reminded of his play with the Reign. “I think it was good for me.”
Clifford has two goals and five assists for seven points, one behind team leader Anze Kopitar. He’s tied with Jeff Carter for second.