Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 5/3/12
Winger Kyle Clifford, out of the Kings lineup since he suffered a concussion in the opener of their first-round NHL playoff series against Vancouver, is available to play in Game 3 of the Kings second-round series against St. Louis on Thursday at Staples Center. However, Coach Darryl Sutter would not say if the rugged winger will play or even if Clifford will participate in warm-ups. Hes available. Hes fully cleared to practice, Sutter said. If you get here for warm-ups then youre going to find out. Clifford was driven into the boards on April 11 by Vancouver's Byron Bitz, who was suspended two games by the NHL. Its unlikely Sutter will change the lineup for Thursday's game, given that the Kings have a 2-0 series lead and given the strong performance so far of fourth-liners Brad Richardson, Colin Fraser and Jordan Nolan. Clifford could conceivably replace Dwight King on the third line but Sutter had heaps of praise Thursday morning for rookies King and Nolan and the positive effect the two forwards have had since they were recalled from Manchester, N.H., of the American Hockey League on Feb. 10. I think they impacted our team when we brought them up, Sutter said after the team held an unprecedented morning skate at Staples Center. Theyre big kids who can skate. Its always nice to have that. Theyre both the same age, young guys. I told them last night I wish I was them. Sutter also said King and Nolan had handled the playoff intensity really well. He added, The best part about those two kids is probably their background . As we go along weve had to manage their minutes because it is a more intense environment, but theyve done a good job giving us those minutes. Blues Coach Ken Hitchcock said his top defenseman, Alex Pietrangelo, will play Thursday after missing Game 2 because of an undisclosed injury. Pietrangelo was pushed into the boards from behind by Kings forward Dwight King in Game 1, and the Blues were irate that King got only a minor penalty for boarding. Hes in. Hell play. He feels good. Ready to go, Hitchcock said after the Blues morning skate. So were hoping the whole stability part gets back to our team, where weve got the right players playing in the right situations. Well have more coverage later, including comments from several players who are having fun being part of an exciting sports time in Los Angeles. --Helene Elliott
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