Jake Muzzin, left, signed a five-season contract extension with the Kings that will keep him in uniform through the 2019-20 season. (Fil photo by Michael Owen Baker/Los Angeles Daily News)
Jake Muzzin has been sidelined by an upper-body injury since before the start of the regular season Oct. 8. But the Kings’ defenseman said Tuesday he hoped to play for the first time this season Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres. Here’s more from Muzzin: “Feeling good. Getting close. Maybe Thursday. I’ve just got to go see the doctor. We’ll get cleared, which I’m pretty sure we will. Feel good, so …”
The Kings have only five healthy and eligible defensemen on the roster after Slava Voynov’s domestic violence suspension Monday by the NHL. Voynov is banned from all club activities, including practices and games.
Kings rookie forward Andy Andreoff hit the ice for his NHL debut and then his gloves and stick followed in short order as he tangled with Matt Hendricks of the Edmonton Oilers on his first shift Tuesday night at Staples Center.
“I tried to get the jitters out in the first-period fight,” said Andreoff, who played 12 minutes, 16 seconds in the Kings’ 6-1 victory over the overmatched Oilers. “I got a couple of hits there. I saw Hendricks there and I asked him to fight and I’m kind of happy that he dropped the gloves with me.”
Rookie center Andy Andreoff is expected to make his NHL debut Tuesday, with the Kings playing against the Edmonton Oilers at Staples Center without the services of injured veteran forwards Marian Gaborik and Trevor Lewis. Andreoff skated on a rugged-looking line with wingers Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan.
Said Andreoff: “Obviously, I’m going to be a little nervous for my first NHL game. It helps a lot with the guys on the team. Everyone’s really close. Everyone’s gone though it, so you’ve just got to get the jitters out in the first shift with a big hit or a simple play. I’m looking forward to it. I played with them in Vegas (in an exhibition game), so we have a little chemistry. They work hard in the corners. I’m looking forward to playing with them.”
Andreoff said several family members would attend the game.
“They’ve been here for a week now,” he said. “It’s definitely nice for them to be here for my first NHL game. They’ve always been supporting me my whole life. It’ll be nice to be celebrating my first game with them. My mom, sister and brother-in-law. You’ve been dreaming about this your life, playing in the driveway, a little road hockey with your buddies, so it’s great to be in such a great organization for your first NHL team. Just practicing with them in the playoffs and watching them and learning all the little things they do to win a Stanley Cup, so I’m happy to be part of this team this year.
“I’m sure my family and and friends will be watching me. They’ve supported my through my whole career. I’m really close with all of them. I’m sure I’ll be getting a bunch of messages after the game.”
Andreoff also said the Kings’ veteran players have been very supportive.
“They’ve all been through it, especially the older guys,” he said. “They’ve given me a heads-up and put me under their wing. That’s why, I guess, they’re such a good team, because they’re all really close.”
Here’s the final part of Monday’s interview with Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin:
Muzzin played with wingers Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli while they were with the Manchester (N.H.) Monarchs, the Kings’ American Hockey League team. So, Muzzin isn’t surprised by all they have accomplished, particularly while skating on a dynamic line with center Jeff Carter.
“They’re sick,” Muzzin said of Pearson and Toffoli. “It’s exciting. You go through the minors with these guys and watch them grow, and it’s exciting to watch. Just take a seat and watch because it might be a show for a while.
“They have playoff experience. They’ve contributed and played a big role in that. That’s huge, I think, in individual growth on and off the ice. Mentally, knowing what to do. Physically, knowing the grind. They’ve been through it. They stepped right in and took off. It’ll be exciting to watch their growth.”
Here’s part two of Monday’s interview with Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin:
Muzzin suffered an undisclosed injury only days before the Kings opened the regular season with a 4-0 loss last Wednesday to the San Jose Sharks. Brayden McNabb took Muzzin’s place alongside Norris Trophy candidate Drew Doughty for the first three games of the season.
Muzzin couldn’t say with an degree of certainty when he might play again.
“I do not know,” he said. “Maybe later this week.”
The Kings’ six-game homestand continues tonight against the Edmonton Oilers at Staples Center. The Kings then play host to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, the Minnesota Wild on Sunday and the Buffalo Sabres on Oct. 23 and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Oct. 26.
Meanwhile, Muzzin will continue his workouts until he’s cleared to play.
“We’ll see,” he said. “The guys are playing great. Big win (Sunday over the Winnipeg Jets). We have to build from that. There was a good feeling in the dressing room. I’ve been working out during the games. Riding the bike. Just in the room, watching and yelling at the TV.”
The Kings held an optional practice Monday, one day after recording their first victory of the season. Only a handful of players, including goaltenders Jonathan Quick and Martin Jones, participated in the workout at the Kings’ practice facility in El Segundo.
Injured defenseman Jake Muzzin was on the ice and working up a sweat, going a little harder than perhaps he should have, and the team’s medical personnel would have wanted. Muzzin admitted as much later during a short conversation with reporters.
“I probably shouldn’t have done some of them today,” Muzzin said of joining several of his teammates for some fairly intense drills. “You want to play, so you do them. You’ve just got to wait until it heals, so it doesn’t create a bigger issue down the road.
“It’s frustrating, but it happens and you’ve got to deal with it the right way. If you don’t, like I said, it could be a while. Just deal with it now.”
Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin said Thursday he could be sidelined for games Saturday against the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale, Ariz., and Sunday against the Winnipeg Jets at Staples Center. He skated with his teammates Thursday, but couldn’t play in Wednesday’s season-opening loss to the San Jose Sharks. He was injured earlier in the week, reportedly suffering an upper-body injury.
“Practice-wise, skating, lungs, everything feels fine,” Muzzin said. “It’s just kind of a fluky injury that I have to sit out for a couple of games.”
Brayden McNabb replaced Muzzin in the Kings’ lineup Wednesday.
“You prepare to play in the first game and all summer you get ready for that game and it’s an emotional game with the banner going up and all that stuff,” Muzzin said. “To be sidelined and have to watch, it’s frustrating, but it’s part of the game. Everyone gets hurt and you’ve got to miss a couple games.”
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty spoke at some length Thursday about helping to ease Brayden McNabb’s burden during his debut with the team in Wednesday’s loss to the San Jose Sharks. Doughty and McNabb formed a defense pair with Doughty’s regular partner, Jake Muzzin, sidelined by an injury. Muzzin could be sidelined a while longer after suffering what he said was a “freak accident” earlier this week.
“He’s got all us veteran guys who are trying to help him as much as we can,” Doughty said. “(Assistant) John Stevens is a great coach. He teaches you a lot of little things you wouldn’t know coming up from the AHL or showing him whatever it might be. Brayden has a huge upside. I could see him continuing to get better as the season progresses. Like I said, I’m going to try to take him under my wing and do everything I can help him and get him into the lineup permanently. I like being in that spot. I’ve got to make a move. I’m not the kid anymore. I’ve got to do some things differently.”
For the record, Doughty is 24 and McNabb is 23.
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty skated with his teammates Saturday and then offered this update on his recovery from a unspecified upper-body injury that kept him off the ice for about a week, including the first few days of training camp:
“Everything’s well. Everything’s good. No problems. Good to go whenever. I’m sure it’s going to be soon. I don’t know exactly (when). I haven’t really talked to anybody about it. I’m sure if I’m not in on Sunday (against the Ducks at the Honda Center) then hopefully I’ll be in on Tuesday (against the Sharks in San Jose).
“It (sitting out) is not that bad. It was frustrating when I wasn’t skating and all the guys are skating in camp and I wasn’t able to partake in that. That’s when it was really bothering me. Missing exhibitions games, as much as I’d like to get in a few to kind of get in my groove again, as long as I get two or three then I’ll be fine. I’m not too worried about it. (The layoff was) maybe, like, a week. Something like that.
“Good to go. Good to play. I think it’s just safe and making sure I’m perfectly ready to go when the time comes.”
There is no timetable for Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick’s exhibition debut, at least not one for public consumption. Quick, coach Darryl Sutter and the team’s medical staff will determine when Quick’s surgically-repaired wrist is sound enough for him to play.
“We’ve got a lot of minds put together trying to figure it out,” Quick said. “We’ll figure it out. We’ve got a little time. Obviously, it’s going to happen in a hurry. I’ll come in and keep working every day and keep getting better like I have been and, hopefully, I can get a couple of games in.”
Quick played only 49 games last season because of a nagging groin injury, well down from a career-high of 72 set during the 2009-10 season. He said he hadn’t thought much about decreasing his workload for the coming season, leaving the decisions up to the coaching staff.
“You love playing games, so you never voluntarily ask for games off,” Quick said. “I think the coaching staff has a good feel for goaltenders and the team and what’s best for them. They run the ship and we just go to work. That’s it.
“They tell me to take a day off, I take a day off. They tell me I’m going, I’m going. You want to be involved. You want to be a part of it. You work so hard all summer to play in those games, you want to try to get in there and be a difference-maker for the team.
“So, you want to be a part of it, obviously. I don’t have a number in my head that I want or anything like that.”