Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin didn’t have a chance to break into the lineup slowly. He was tossed in there because of injuries and, in time, it was clear that he belonged. He said he learned a great deal from the Kings’ veteran group of defensemen, including Matt Greene. Muzzin took Greene’s spot in the lineup for the better part of the regular season, and Greene acted as a mentor while recovering from back surgery. Said Muzzin:
Kings rookie defenseman Jake Muzzin would have played the season with the Manchester (N.H.) Monarchs of the American Hockey League if not for prolonged injuries to Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell. Greene missed all but a handful of games because of back surgery and Mitchell never played a shift after undergoing offseason knee surgery. Muzzin filled a glaring void and kept the Kings on track for a second consecutive Western Conference finals trip. Muzzin grew into the role and wouldn’t be knocked out of the lineup even after the acquisition of Robyn Regehr and Greene’s return from surgery.
Rob Scuderi is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent early next month, and the Kings’ veteran defenseman could go that route if he decides it’s best for him and his family. Scuderi talked last week about finding a comfort zone with the Kings over the last four seasons. He also said when asked about his future with the team:
Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi was as baffled by the Kings’ lack of road success, especially during the playoffs, as anyone else. It was perhaps the main reason the Kings were eliminated from the conference finals in five games by the Chicago Blackhawks. The Kings lost all three games they played in Chicago and dropped eight of nine on the road overall in the postseason. Last year, they were 10-1 on the road during the playoffs.
So, what’s next for Kings right wing Tyler Toffoli? Kings coach Darryl Sutter would like the 21-year-old to gain strength and stamina before training camp begins in September. Sutter might also consider switching Toffoli from the right wing to the left in order to make that side of the ice a little stronger than it’s been the last two seasons. Dustin Brown is the Kings’ top left wing, but the production on that side drops off considerably. Toffoli could fill the void, if the Kings decide to go in that direction.
Tyler Toffoli knows all about the increased speed and sense of urgency that comes with climbing the ladder as a professional hockey player. After all, he’s climbed it at a great speed and with a keen sense of urgency. The Kings’ right wing scored 100 points (52 goals, 48 assists) in 65 games with the junior-level Ottawa 67s in 2011-12. Then he scored 51 points (28 goals, 23 assists) in 58 games with the Manchester (N.H.) Monarchs of the American Hockey League in 2012-13 and was named the Rookie of the Year. He also scored five points (two goals, three assists) in 10 games with the Kings.
The Kings failed to defend their Stanley Cup championship, with the Chicago Blackhawks knocking them off in the Western Conference finals. Kings captain Dustin Brown shared his thoughts on where the Kings fell short in their bid to become the first team to repeat as champions since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and ’98. Said Brown:
Kings captain Dustin Brown wasn’t right during the Chicago Blackhawks’ five-game victory in the Western Conference finals. Brown revealed after the Kings’ double-overtime loss in the decisive Game 5 that he played with a torn knee ligament. Days later, in his exit interview with reporters, he detailed how the injury impacted his play.
Kings winger Dustin Brown acknowledged playing the Western Conference finals with a torn knee ligament. He said he was hurt in a collision with Dan Boyle of the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 of the Kings’ second-round victory. Surgery isn’t necessary, but Brown will need rest and time in order to be sound again before training camp.
Kings center Mike Richards said he felt helpless while sitting out with a concussion for three games during their conference finals loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Here’s more from the veteran, who returned to the lineup and scored an unforgettable goal on a deflection in the closing seconds of regulation play to force Game 5 to overtime: