Jake Muzzin experienced a season that isn’t particularly unfamiliar to a lot of young players in the National Hockey League who strive for the elusive intangible of “consistency.” Boosted by the quick release of his wristshot and a heavy slapshot, Muzzin found some success on the scoresheet in catalyzing Los Angeles’ power play in March, when the club scored 13 times on 52 opportunities (25%).

There were also moments of learning. His March production (11 points) earned him dark horse Calder Trophy whispers; it also more than doubled his production from the other three months of the regular season combined. Points, of course, won’t be the weightiest category in which Muzzin will be judged.

He played in all but one postseason game, and though his early performances required improvement, he gradually became more accustomed to the Stanley Cup Playoffs style of play. “I was feeling a little more comfortable as the playoffs went on,” said Muzzin. Though there were playoff hiccups, his play appeared to reflect that statement. After he sat out Game 2 in Chicago, he returned to play effectively in Games 3, 4 and 5.

Muzzin appeared to understand Darryl Sutter’s messages clearly. Following some rough outings in early February, which included Sutter’s memorable and pointed “road apples” comment when describing the then-23-year-old’s play at the time, Muzzin was not removed from the lineup once he re-entered the defensive rotation in a 2-1 win over Columbus on February 15. Even when the team acquired Robyn Regehr in early April, Muzzin held off Keaton Ellerby and Alec Martinez in his bid to remain in Sutter’s favor.

“Just challenge myself and get a little mad at yourself when you’re not playing as well,” Muzzin responded when asked about his improved play when challenged by the coaching staff.

“When you get sat or taken out of the lineup, you want to come back and show that you belong in the lineup. You have to play better of a game, and that’s something I’ve learned this year as well. Being ready for every game, preparing. You want to play. When you get taken out of the lineup you want to show that you belong in the lineup, and maybe that’s why I came back strong.”

He’s a restricted free agent – Ellerby and Martinez are also restricted free agents – and at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, his size and his offensive potential should prioritize his re-signing.

Similar to that of Tyler Toffoli, this off-season will be an important time in Muzzin’s development.

“They’re going to have to take 100 days of being stronger athletes, the next 100 days. For them to help us next year, they’re going to have to be better athletes, very simple,” Sutter said of Muzzin and Toffoli.

“They were boys that we could cover up a lot, and what do they take from it? Hopefully as we meet with them the next two or three days we’re going to find out. It’s not something I’m going to generalize. I know for certain though that you have to be physically and mentally as close to 100% as you can to play in the National Hockey League. You can play, but you’ve got to play and be able to help a good team. There’s not much line to draw there. When you have training camp on September 11 and [today] is June 11, count the days. Start getting ready. I started doing it on the plane ride home the other night. There was no de- what do you call it? Decompressing? No. That’s not the way it works.”

Jake Muzzin, on where he has progressed, and where improvement is needed:
“For me, I think my progress is being consistent, trying to make myself a player that’s going to be in the lineup all the time. I thought I had a pretty good season and as the season went on I felt more and more comfortable. I need to continue to improve on getting better and making myself even more consistent on the ice and being more confident, and to get a little bit stronger and faster and go from there.”

Muzzin, on what he learned in the playoffs:
“The intensity and a little bit of added pressure playing. I learned a lot playing in the playoffs. You’ve got to up your game. It’s kind of a different season. I felt like as the playoffs went on I got better, and I started to feel a little bit more comfortable…I learned a lot from the older guys on the team and getting ready game in and game out because the games are right after one another. Overall, we fell short but I learned a lot coming out of the playoffs.”

Muzzin, on the veterans’ influence:
“Playing with Greener, he helped me out just being confident and being a physical player. Going out and playing my game and not trying to not make mistakes – just go out and play. Mistakes are going to happen, and stuff like that, so just go out and feel comfortable and play my game. The older guys like Scuds and Reg, how they bring their game. Every game they’re ready to go. Just watching them play I learned little stuff on and off the ice.”

Rules for Blog Commenting
  • - No profanity, slurs or other offensive language. Replacing letters with symbols does not turn expletives into non-expletives.
  • - Personal attacks against other blog commenters, and/or blatant attempts to antagonize other commenters, are not tolerated. Respectful disagreement is encouraged. Posts that continually express the same singular opinion will be deleted.
  • - Comments that incite political, religious or similar debates will be deleted.
  • - Please do not discuss, or post links to, websites that illegally stream NHL games.
  • - Posting under multiple user names is not allowed. Do not type in all caps. All violations are subject to comment deletion and/or banning of commenters, per the discretion of the blog administrator.
Alec martinez

#27 | 6′ 1″ | 210 lb | Age: 29

Born: July 26, 1987
Birthplace: Rochester Hills, MI, USA
Position: D
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Martinez was drafted by the LA Kings in the 2007 Draft, while playing for Miami University. He has since become a two-time Stanley Cup champion and the 17th man in Stanley Cup playoff history to score the Cup-winning goal in overtime.

VIEW ALEC MARTINEZ POSTS
Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left

Bio

As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

VIEW ANZE KOPITAR POSTS
Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right

Bio

Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

VIEW DREW DOUGHTY POSTS
Tyler Toffoli

#73 | 6′ 1″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

Born: April 24, 1992
Birthplace: Scarborough, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Toffoli is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward, drafted by the Kings in the second round of the 2010 Draft. Toffoli scored his first career NHL goal in his second game in a 4–0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013. He was also named the 2012–13 AHL All-Rookie Team.
VIEW TYLER TOFFOLI POSTS

Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

VIEW JEFF CARTER POSTS
Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

VIEW JONATHAN QUICK POSTS