Jake Muzzin has rebounded well after a 20 game lull between December 14 and January 25 in which he scored one goal, did not record an assist, and posted a minus-4 rating.
Playing primarily with Drew Doughty and eating up anywhere from 15:29 to 18:12 of ice time since the February 6 overtime win over Columbus, Muzzin has generally been an effective presence on the blue line and a useful option on the second unit power play. He has two goals, four points and a plus-four rating in the last nine games, helping lead the club to an 8-1-0 record over that span. In 62 games this season, the 25-year-old has five goals, 20 points and a plus-6 rating.
Though he’s a deft puck mover, a possession whiz and a fine offensive complement, Muzzin has rarely, if ever, drawn noteworthy praise from Darryl Sutter in the media, and the infamous “road apples” comment followed a request for an appraisal of Muzzin’s game last season.
With that in context, Sutter’s evaluation this morning represented some of the most encouraging words offered on behalf of the King who has totaled 37 points (12-25=37) and a plus-20 rating in 118 career games.
“I think he’s been pretty much the same thing all year,” Sutter said. “He’s given us times where he’s played really well and times where he’s struggled, and it looks like his game’s going back up again.”
“He plays 17-to-20 minutes a night on a top team in the league. I think that’s pretty positive.”
His defensive partner also gauged the comfort level that the two have constructed.
“He’s been playing well,” Doughty said. “I think Muzz – he plays well generally every game, but I guess there are some games where he’ll fall off just a little bit. But I love playing with Muzz. I think we are great together on the ice. We’re always out there for a lot more chances for than we are against. We’re usually playing against the other teams’ top lines, so if we’re able to do that every night against the other team’s top line, obviously Muzz is doing something right. I think he’s been playing great, and we need him to continue to play like this going into playoffs.”
Doughty, on Muzzin’s composure and confidence in his second full season:
I think he’s more confident on the ice. He’s learned to play a lot better defensively, too. That’s what we needed from him, was to make strides in the defensive zone because if you’re playing with me, you’re going to have to, like I said, shut down the other team’s best lines. I think he’s made huge strides. He’s really good. He’s physical. He’s not easy to play against. He’s got a long stick. He’s been great. When he’s playing with confidence, he’s getting his shot through, and he’s got an unbelievable shot. He’s moving pucks and making plays, and that’s what he’s been doing.