After a few false starts, Jake Muzzin’s hard work translated into NHL success. He went into Sunday night’s game against the Dallas Stars with seven goals, tops among Kings’ defensemen, and nine assists in 41 games since he was promoted from Manchester (N.H.) of the American Hockey League.
In fact, in spite of his low, hard and accurate shot from the perimeter, Muzzin might still be toiling in the minor leagues for Manchester if not for injuries that sidelined defensemen Matt Greene (back) and Willie Mitchell (knee) for almost all of the lockout-shortened season.
Greene returned to the lineup Thursday, but Muzzin kept his spot in part because of his play on the Kings’ power play. Kings coach Darryl Sutter scratched Keaton Ellerby for Thursday’s victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets in order to clear a spot for Greene.
Muzzin also stayed in the lineup because he plays the left side and not the right, pushing out Alec Martinez.
“Quite honestly, I don’t like talking about it because those kids (Muzzin, Ellerby and Martinez) have helped us get to where we are and they’re important players for us,” Sutter said. “So, it’s not like ‘Muzz’ has stayed in because he’s ahead (of the others).
“He’s a different type of player and he plays a different side. And he can’t play the right side. Basically, Keaton got bumped out of the lineup and ‘Muzz’ has played ahead of (Martinez) when you look at it. That’s the position.”