The good times keep getting better for Los Angeles.
Up 2-0 in their Western Conference semifinal against St. Louis, the Kings received some good news on Thursday as winger Kyle Clifford was cleared to play for the first time since suffering a concussion in the opener of their Round 1 series against Vancouver:
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Clifford is available for this evening’s tilt with the Blues, though Kings head coach Darryl Sutter wouldn’t say if the 21-year-old would be back in the lineup.
“He’s available. He’s fully cleared to practice,” Sutter told the L.A. Times. “If you get here for warm-ups then you’re going to find out.”
The decision to play Clifford, the 35th overall pick at the 2009 draft, might not come down to his health at all. The two most likely candidates he’d replace — rookies Dwight King and Jordan Nolan — have played very well against St. Louis and drawn high praise from Sutter.
“They’re big kids who can skate. It’s always nice to have that,” Sutter said. They’re both the same age, young guys. I told them last night I wish I was them.
“As we go along we’ve had to manage their minutes because it is a more intense environment, but they’ve done a good job giving us those minutes.”
That said, it would seem strange to hold Clifford out. He was a lineup fixture throughout the regular season, playing in 81 games (5G-7A-12PTS) while finishing third on the team in hits (179).
Mike Ribeiro isn’t playing in Game 3 for the Nashville Predators against the San Jose Sharks, and it doesn’t appear to be for health reasons.
Well, his production hasn’t been very healthy.
The polarizing playmaker has only mustered a single assist and zero goals in nine playoff games; Ribeiro hasn’t scored a point against the Sharks so far.
Ribeiro isn’t exactly known for his offensive acumen, either, so there’s not much motivation to keep him in the lineup if he isn’t producing offense. Ultimately, it’s easy to see why he’s a healthy scratch.
Pontus Aberg looks to make his NHL debut via this big playoff game while Craig Smith is believed to play.
It should be interesting to see how Nashville responds to this challenge.
The Nashville Predators hope to get back in their series now that the San Jose Sharks are visiting “Smashville.” Meanwhile, the Dallas Stars and Blues jostle for a 2-1 lead in St. Louis.
You can keep up with Game 3 of the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders (which is in progress) right here and on NBCSN.
Game 3 of Sharks – Predators is on USA Network and can be streamed via the link below.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Finally, Game 3 of Stars – Blues airs on NBCSN. Keep an eye out for notes if there’s overlap with Bolts – Isles (which would bump it temporarily to NHL Network), but either way, you can stream the action below.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Jonathan Drouin‘s strong playoff play has been a big story for the Tampa Bay Lightning, but his health is in question after taking a huge hit on Tuesday.
As you can see from the video above, Drouin was shaken up by an enormous check from New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey. It’s believed that Drouin went to “The Quiet Room” to see if he suffered a concussion; PHT will pass along whatever information becomes available.
(NHL teams aren’t exactly forthcoming with this information.)
The Islanders actually ended up with a power play from the fallout, as Hickey’s hit didn’t earn a penalty. The general reaction is that it wasn’t a dirty hit, yet some might disagree with that sentiment.
Update: Drouin didn’t come out during the beginning of the third period. He did, however, return midway through the final frame.
The NHL named the three finalists for the 2016 Foundation Player Award on Tuesday: Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano, New York Islanders forward Matt Martin and Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban.
The awarded is handed to “an NHL player who applies the core values of hockey — commitment, perseverance and teamwork — to enrich the lives of people in his community.”
The winner gets to hand $25K to the charity of his choice.