The Los Angeles Kings‘ Kyle Clifford is known more for his toughness than his scoring ability as evidenced by his 396 career penalty minutes. Having said that, the former Barrie Colt was one of the Kings’ best forwards in their Game 1 win against the New York Rangers. Scoring the Kings’ first goal of the game was only the tip of the iceberg for Clifford, as he provided his usual physicality and tenacity in a way that sparked the rest of the team.
Among the countless advantages the Kings have over the Rangers, their physicality is the most apparent. Everyone on the Kings plays physical; it’s the No. 1 staple of their team, but Clifford at his best is one of their best forecheckers and can change the momentum of a game with his thunderous checks.
Clifford also in so many ways epitomizes “rock’em, sock’em hockey”. Going back to his rookie year, Clifford has had no problem in fighting the most feared fighters in the NHL. This level of toughness is what makes Clifford an integral part of the Kings’ success as not only can he fight, but he’s also a legitimate player whose presence on the ice isn’t detrimental to the team.
While expecting a goal per game out Clifford isn’t realistic, expecting his physical game every night is a safe bet. Look for No. 13 to continue to push around the Rangers’ defensemen as the Broadway Blueshirts get introduced to Kings’ hockey.
With wingers like Clifford and Dwight King bearing down on them all series, the Rangers’ defensemen will pounded physically and have less energy to chase the Kings’ scorers around the ice. The mix of power and finesse will just add to the disadvantages the Rangers will have to overcome to win beat the Kings.