Three things about the L.A. Kings victory over the Sabres

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick blanked the Sabres on Thursday for his team-record 33rd career shutout. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick blanked the Sabres on Thursday for his team-record 33rd career shutout. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

Here are the first few paragraphs of Thursday’s game story:

The Kings had just enough Thursday. The defending Stanley Cup champions had 12 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders on their roster when they faced off against the Buffalo Sabres at Staples Center, and not one healthy or eligible body more.

There simply was no margin for error for the Kings in their first game since defenseman Slava Voynov was arrested by Redondo Beach police on charges of domestic violence and suspended indefinitely with pay by the NHL on Monday morning.

Under normal circumstances, the mere presence of the struggling Sabres would have eased the Kings’ minds and made for an easy night. But an early goal and a record-setting goaltending performance also propelled the Kings to a 2-0 victory, their fifth in a row.

Here are three more things about the Kings’ latest victory:

First, Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar scored power-play goals and the Kings clicked on two of three chances with the man-advantage overall. It’s a start for a power play that was 2 for 20 (10 percent) and ranked 25th in the 30-team NHL going into the game. The Kings must be better in their special teams play if they are to defend their Stanley Cup championship. It’s really that simple.

Second, Jonathan Quick stopped 29 shots and recorded his Kings-record 33rd shutout of his career, one more than the mark he shared since Oct. 16 with Rogie Vachon. “It really is nothing new,” Kopitar said of Quick’s play in goal. “He’s just solid back there. We try to help him out as much as we can. When breakdowns do happen, he’s back there. He’s saved our butts a bunch of times already. I’m sure he’s going to continue to do it.”

Third, the Kings welcomed defenseman Jake Muzzin to their lineup after he sat out the first six games of the season because of an upper-body injury. They also played for the first time since defenseman Slava Voynov was arrested on domestic violence charges and suspended Monday by the NHL, which turned out to be less of a distraction for the team than anyone might have imagined. The Kings are strong that way. Nothing seems to trouble them. Let’s see how it plays out long-term.

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L.A. Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin makes his season debut

Defenseman Jake Muzzin made his long-delayed and much-anticipated 2014-15 debut Thursday, after sitting out the Kings’ first six games because of an unspecified upper-body injury. Muzzin rejoined the Kings’ top defense pair, skating with usual partner Drew Doughty.

Muzzin’s return and the suspension of Slava Voynov caused a shuffle Thursday in the pairs Kings coach Darryl Sutter used to start the season. Brayden McNabb skated with Doughty in the first six games, but he was with Matt Greene. Alec Martinez and Robyn Regehr also formed a pair.

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L.A. Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin given medical clearance to play again

Jake Muzzin was cleared Wednesday to play in Thursday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres at Staples Center, giving the Kings the full complement of six defensemen. Muzzin was sidelined by an upper-body injury suffered during the final week of training camp and sat out the team’s first six games.

“Excited for (tonight),” Muzzin said. “You’ve got to deal with it the proper way. It could have been a lot worse if we didn’t deal if we rushed it. We’ve got a lot of season left and I’m looking forward to it. … It didn’t affect my skating or anything like that. … It’s not 100 percent, but it’s good to go.”

 

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Injured Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin hopes to play Thursday against the Sabres

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, 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.

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L.A. Kings sign defenseman Jake Muzzin to a five-year contract extension

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, 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)

The Kings took another bold step toward solidifying their future when they signed defenseman Jake Muzzin to a five-year, $20-million contract extension Wednesday. Muzzin, 25, formed a strong defense pair with perennial Norris Trophy candidate Drew Doughty and joins a growing list of Kings with long-term contracts.

Muzzin signed with the Kings as a free agent on Jan. 4, 2010, and after an apprenticeship with the team’s American Hockey League team in Manchester, N.H., emerged as a very useful player. He has 41 points, including 12 goals, in 132 career games with the Kings. He also played in all 26 playoff games last season and recorded 12 points, including six goals, as the Kings won their second Stanley Cup championship in three seasons. He was the leading goal-scorer among defensemen in the playoffs.

Muzzin’s new contract will keep him in a Kings uniform through the 2019-20 season. He hasn’t made his season debut after suffering an upper-body injury before the team’s season-opening game Oct. 8. His status for Thursday’s game against the St. Louis Blues is uncertain. He said earlier this week there was no timetable for his debut.

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L.A. Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin interview (part 3)

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.”

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L.A. Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin interview (part 2)

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.”

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L.A. Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin interview (part 1)

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.”

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Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin updates his condition

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.”

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Drew Doughty adopts a new role as a mentor for the Kings

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.

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