For what felt like the majority of the regular season, Los Angeles Kings' defenseman Jake Muzzin seemed to be nothing less than a defensive liability for his team. Whenever the opposing team scored, yours truly usually quipped that Muzzin must have been on the ice. Of course, such treatment of the 25-year-old was, to say the leasy, unfair. After all, in only his second full season with the Kings, Muzzin looked generally more comfortable with each passing game.
In 76 games this past season, Muzzin scored five goals and added 19 assists, with five of his 24 points coming on the power play. As for status as a defensive liability, his +8 rating may beg to differ. A former draft pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jake Muzzin also registered 175 shots, second among Los Angeles defensemen behind Drew Doughty's 177, third in hits with 169 and fourth in blocked shots with 82.
In the playoffs, the native of Woodstock, Ontario, only seemed to get better.
Muzzin's six goals led all Kings' defenseman while his 12 points placed him second behind the aforementioned Doughty. In fact, half of Muzzin's postseason points came on the power play with three of them counting for goals. Muzzin also further quieted those skeptics who thought he was a defensive liability by racking up a +6 rating and was even well-disciplined, committing just eight penalty minutes.
Also in the playoffs, Jake Muzzin played in each of Los Angeles's 26 games en route to the Stanley Cup, logging an averaging of 23:23 of ice time per outing, which was over four minutes more than his average during the regular season.
Also, like in the regular season, Muzzin was not afraid to use his 6' 3, 213-pound frame to his advantage as he dished out 74 hits (second only to Slava Voynov) while showing off his defensive muscle, blocking 51 shots.
He may still make a costly mistake here and there that will cost his team a goal but overall Jake Muzzin has come into his own as an ideal player for a defense as stingy as that of the Los Angeles Kings. If this were early in the season, Jake Muzzin may have received a low grade. But as the season has gone on, that just isn't the case anymore.
Overall grade for Jake Muzzin: B-