Sutter on Muzzin: "He's struggling a lot" - LA Kings Insider

Darryl Sutter offered a harsh indictment of Jake Muzzin’s play to start the season following the team’s practice on Tuesday.

“He’s struggling a lot,” Sutter said. Though Muzzin scored the Kings lone goal as part of his 17:12 of ice time during the team’s 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Monday, he was also found to be at fault for the second period takeaway by Rick Nash that led to New York’s second goal. Through three games this season, the defenseman has one goal, one assist, and has compiled a team-worst minus-five rating.

“Muzzin [is] going to have to learn not to turn the puck over if he wants to play, period,” Sutter said after Monday’s game.

He expanded on his position on Tuesday.

“We went through it last year. He’s a young defenseman,” Sutter said. “There’s a lot of pressure on him, and he’s not quite prepared for those situations yet. You [saw] it in the playoffs last year, where he was a healthy scratch. So we’re going through that same thing again. Heck, you’re not going to win very many games if you’re a guy who’s playing significant minutes, and you’re a high-minus player.”

The Kings coach was then asked if that was part of the “typical learning curve” associated with breaking young defensemen into the NHL.

“He got hurt in Colorado,” Sutter answered. “We tried to ramp his training up this summer. He was a very unfit player when we got him last year. He was very fortunate to be on an NHL roster. He just worked on his fitness. That really hurt him in the playoffs, the pace of it. He did a really good job this summer of trying to get better there with his cardiovascular that we wanted him to and then he got hurt in Colorado, so he didn’t skate for a week…and then he didn’t have any contact. You know what? Probably shouldn’t have played him the first game. Should’ve bag skated him a couple more days there.”

Though Muzzin skated primarily with Matt Greene through the first three games of the season, Alec Martinez took rushes with Greene during Tuesday’s practice.

Could that be some foreshadowing of Wednesday’s alignment against Ottawa?

“No, it doesn’t mean nothing,” Sutter said.

During the preseason, Drew Doughty spoke highly of Muzzin and went as far as to advocate a more regular pairing with the 6-foot-3, 214 pound defenseman capable of rushing the puck and boasting a heavy shot from the point. The two skated as a pair through the middle of the 2012-13 season and often saw the ice together later in the season while the Kings were trailing late in games.

Muzzin, 24, was signed by the Kings as a free agent during the 2009-10 season, while he was the captain of the Soo Greyhounds. He ranked third in rookie defensive scoring with 16 points (7-9=16) in 2012-13 while leading the Kings with a plus-16 rating.

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Jake Muzzin

#6 | 6′ 3″ | 216 lb | Age: 27

Born: Feb 21, 1989
Birthplace: Woodstock, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Left


Muzzin was drafted in 2007 by the Pittsburgh Penguins, before signing to the Kings in 2010. He has since become the first Woodstock, Ontario professional athlete to win a major sports trophy.

Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

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


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.

Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

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


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.

Tyler Toffoli

#73 | 6′ 1″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

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


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.

Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

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


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.

Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

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


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.