By Paul Armbruster | KingsNewsDaily.com
It didn’t surprise many when word came today that usual 4th liner Kyle Clifford was moved up to the 2nd line along side Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. That’s because Clifford, who spent the bulk of the playoffs recovering from an injury, came to play in the first two games of the season. He leads the team in points with 2 assists and 1 goal and a +3.
One person who may have been surprised by the decision is Dustin Penner, who dropped to the 3rd line, presumingly sharing duties with Dwight King on the left side. Penner appears to be in danger of sitting out his first post-championship game tomorrow night in Edmonton after a string of stellar playoff performances. That’s because the 3rd line of King, Jarret Stoll and Trevor Lewis have also played well in the first two games, while Penner struggled at times.
The other “top six” left winger in the mix is Simon Gagne, who practiced alongside Colin Fraser, Jordan Nolan and Brad Richardson on the 4th line, giving hope that he may play in his first game after being scratched the first two.
Brown – Kopitar – Williams
Clifford – Richards – Carter
King – Stoll – Lewis
Gagne – Fraser – Nolan
Scratches: Penner & Richardson
The Kings 3 defensive pairings from the night before also stayed intact during practice.
Doughty – Scuderi
Voynov – Martinez
Drewiske – Muzzin
Expect them to remain the same for tomorrow. The “4th” pairing consisted of still-recovering Willie Mitchell and newly recalled Andrew Bodnarchuck.
Said Mitchell after practice, “I had another good day. It’s starting to feel more comfortable. It’s been pretty good so far. It swells up a little bit and goes back down, so I think that’s how it’s going to be probably the rest of the year…I’m just trying to get my conditioning to be honest with you. I just want to get out there and not be a liability to my defense partner, my teammates, the coach. When I come back I just don’t want to play a couple games and go out of the lineup. The last few days has been good, I’m getting a good idea of what it feels like and how it will respond.”
Coach Darryl Sutter on Mitchell said, “He’s got doctor’s clearance, trainer’s clearance. The coaches want him to clear himself.”
Here are more post-practice quotes courtesy of LAKingsInsider.com
On things the team needs to improve: “Little things here and there…bounces, getting to loose pucks…it’s timing. Those power plays we’ve hed. We have to score on some of those for sure. We just didn’t capitalize. We got to work harder for that and be smarter.”
On things the team needs to keep doing: “Everything we did in the first period last night…rolling four lines. We were skating, we were up on the fore-check. That’s what we need to do.”
On how to beat Edmonton: “We need to stay discipline, they have a lot of skill. They’ve really improved their team and have a lot of good young kids, so we can’t let them go on the power play. They had a tough game last night, so they will be ready to go tomorrow. This has to be the best game we’ve played so far.”
On controlling Edmonton’s speed: “We need to play in the offensive zone as much as we can, force them to play defense and work hard in the neutral zone. We got to limit their speed by closing in on them quick so they don’t have time to wind it.”
“As a team I thought we were good last night. Guys are still sucking away. Right now it’s about managing some of the injuries on the back end.”
On the top forwards: “Players are going to go through periods where they don’t score. That’s going to happen. We’re just trying to get them there. It’s one of those things with a 48-game schedule. It’s not about what you did or what you think, it’s about what you’re doing. [The last two games] I’ve seen Jonathan Toews and last night [Matt Duchene], dominant players and they’re young and ready to go. They’re spot on ready. You look at the game last night and Duchene kicked our two centerman’s ass. You just can’t wait around for every player to get going.”
On Drew Doughty: “Drew’s been awesome. He looks really well trained, he’s right on in terms in wanting more of that role, the leadership part of it…He was awesome on the power play [last night] and getting involved. You look at our defense. You have Rob Scuderi and next to that Drew is the most experienced guy.”
On Jonathan Quick: “Jonathan was sharper [last night]. You could just see he was more in control of everything.”
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