Kings not expected to have Kyle Clifford for opener against Sharks
Based on the line rushes and defense pairs in the Kings’ game-day skate Tuesday at Staples Center, their lineup for Game 1 of their second-round playoff series against the San Jose Sharks on Monday night looks to be the same as it was for their first-round clincher against St. Louis.
That means they won’t have rugged left wing Kyle Clifford, who apparently suffered an injury during the series against the Blues, though the Kings aren’t revealing anything. The fourth line in Game 6 against St. Louis -- and in Tuesday’s morning skate -- was Jordan Nolan on the left, with veteran Colin Fraser in the middle and rookie Tyler Toffoli on the right.
For Fraser, the adjustment from having Clifford on his left to having Nolan is easy.
“I think they’re very similar players, comparable players,” Fraser said. “They’re both big guys that skate very well and are physical and, if need be, both can fight.
“I don’t know if there is that big a difference. Cliffy’s been in the league a little longer and has a little more experience. But that being said, they know their roles and they both play them very well.”
Having Toffoli on the right is a little different, Fraser said. Toffoli has been in the lineup the last two games and had some good offensive-zone shifts. He played 10 minutes 39 seconds in Game 5 and 8:11 in Game 6 and was plus-1 defensively in the clincher against the Blues.
“He’s more of a skill player with offensive instincts,” Fraser said. “We have kind of a joke. I always tell him, ‘I’ll take care of the D-zone, you take care of the O-zone.’ So it’s nice playing with a guy like that because of his skill level and his smarts. And although he’s young, he’s a smart player so he can adjust easily. You talk about experience, but he’s been great.”
Toffoli said he has leaned on Fraser quite a bit.
“He talks to me all the time, on and off the ice,” Toffoli said. “He tells me to keep things simple and just work hard and be responsible in all three zones and just play my game.
““He just says, whenever we get the puck, just try and make plays and bring the puck to the net, and he’s going to go to the net. Nolie said the same thing, and Cliffy as well. What we have to do is keep it simple and get the pucks on the net and get the pucks out of our zone and just go to work.”
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