As we first reported, Kyle Clifford did not practice with the Kings this afternoon. Then, following the team’s optional on-ice session, coach Darryl Sutter declared Clifford out of the line-up for game two tomorrow night vs. the Canucks – all stemming from the hit he suffered from Byron Bitz (video here).
In fact, neither of the players involved in the situation will play in the second tilt of the best-of-seven series. The NHL has suspended Bitz for two games. So, he won’t be in the line-up in LA on Sunday either.
A lot of people are questioning why the league only levied a $2,500 fine on Nashville’s Shea Weber for his hit last night, while opting to have Bitz sit out a few games. Certainly that’s a valid question. Regardless though, the hit on Clifford was dangerous and unnecessary. Thus, I’m glad to see the NHL take action in this case. The answer to ‘What’s next?’ appears to be a little foggy at the moment.
Due to Brad Ricahardson’s injury, the Kings have two options at forward – go with Andrei Loktionov or Kevin Westgarth. Basically, you have a choice of skill vs. strength. Loktionov would likely play a third line role, while Westgarth would be expected to slide onto the fourth line. Loktionov doesn’t have any NHL post-season experience. However, he did play 39 games with the Kings this season and scored three goals. Westgarth, a healthy scratch since mid-February, suited up for 25 games this season and six playoff games last year vs. San Jose.
Given what you saw in game one, would would you do if you were coach Sutter?
Poll closes Friday at 9am PST. Follow @mayorNHL