Bitz suspended, Clifford to miss game two – now what?

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.

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Comments

  1. Loktionov for sure.
    Lokti plays well against the Canucks
    Additionally, what can Westgarth do? he wont fight, he cant score…he”ll just take dumb penalities

  2. I think that Lokti is the best offensive choice. He can score and handles the puck well. If more physical presence is needed than I think you tell Jordan that he can step up his physical game. He has a huge physical game that he keeps wrapped tight.

  3. Westgarth played the best hockey of his career last season against the Sharks. Loktionov isn’t fast enough nor big enough to make a difference against the ‘Nucks.

  4. You have to help Lokti and get him some playoff experience at the same time in a situation like this, especially when Westgarth will provide zero scoring! We don’t need as much physical play that he can provide, than we do offensive play right now! Come on Sutter, put Lokti in there and see what kind of spark he can create for us!! In the playoffs, it doesn’t take a whole lot sometimes to help create the spark that we can use to score a couple goals and help us win game two, all while helping the youngster get some valuable playoff experience, which is huge for his future as well!!

  5. i dont understand how weber didnt get fined and bitz did. dont get me wrong, the hit on clifford was definitely a fineable offense, but how was webers headsmash against the glass not as serious?

    • Weber DID get fined. You mean you’re surprised Weber didn’t get suspended and Bitz did?

  6. Blueline says:

    Loktionov could be exploited by Vancouver as his defense isn’t that strong, yes he’s better offensively, but throwing another rookie out there might not be Sutter’s first choice. I think we will see Westgarth out there on a very short leash. If he starts taking penalties, expect Sutter to start double shifting players for his spot.

  7. Who drops down the the fourth line in this situation? Lewis? No thanks. King? Even worse. At least with Westy we will match the physical play they clearly want. Lokti still very lacks NHL level strength He will get man-handled. Sure he could absolutely have a huge break-out, but he would also be the greater risk overall. Putting in Westy will have the least affect on the team, and considering we just won I’d prefer that to mixing it up. Just tell him not to fight!!!

  8. We can beat them with speed. Westy doesn’t have that. You can bet the refs will calling an even tighter game now. Do we really need someone to take more undisciplined penalties? He only has 25 games all years he should playing in Manchester right now.

  9. Westgarth is needed. Vancouver was punking our D and taking runs at doughty and causing extra curricular activities after the whistle

  10. I’d rather go with Westy for the easy plug into Cliffy’s spot. If Lokti goes in, it shakes up lines. Let’s do the least to fix what isn’t broke. Westy can be there to be a pest and I like his chances against anyone on Vancouver if he needs to drop the gloves. Hopefully it at least gets the Nucks to thinking about doing something stupid tomorrow. Ah forget it. Who am I kidding? The Nucks will do something stupid no matter what!

Trackbacks

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  2. [...] Kyle Clifford did not skate and coach Darryl Sutter said he’s hoping to get him back on the ice tomorrow or [...]

  3. [...] Kyle Clifford took to the ice today for the first time since being rocked by Byron Bitz last week.  Kings coach [...]

  4. [...] game.  For the Kings, Brad Richardson will remain on the fourth line in place of Kyle Clifford.  Coach Darryl Sutter only said that he hadn’t suffered a setback when asked why Clifford [...]