THE BUZZ ON MUZZ

Kings’ de­fence­man reaches 50 goals, clos­ing in on 500 games — and one child

Sentinel-Review (Woodstock) - - FRONT PAGE - CORY SMITH co­[email protected]­media.com

Jake Muzzin re­cently reached one mile­stone and is clos­ing in on two more.

The 29-year-old Los An­ge­les Kings de­fence­man from Wood­stock scored his 50th ca­reer goal Dec. 15 in a 4-3 loss to Pitts­burgh. Muzzin has four goals and 13 as­sists in 44 games this sea­son and will need a big sec­ond half to crack the 40-point to­tal for the fourth time in his ca­reer.

For a coach, he’s un­be­liev­able, be­cause he’s in the game every game.” Kings’ de­fen­sive coach Marco Sturm

“I’ve def­i­nitely been more con­sis­tent this year, which has al­ways been a fo­cus of mine: to be con­sis­tent every game,” he told the Los An­ge­les Times. “Try to pro­vide that sta­bil­ity (as) a good strong de­fender for the team. It’s been a fo­cus of mine and it’s been bet­ter this year.”

Muzzin – a Pen­guins fifth-round pick in 2007 – has be­come one of the league’s most re­li­able blue-lin­ers since sign­ing with the Kings in 2010. He leads Los An­ge­les in hits and blocked shots and is plus-eight while tak­ing on more of a lead­er­ship role.

“There’s been a need for vet­er­ans to step in and help and be more vo­cal and try to help these young guys de­velop their game in the NHL,” Muzzin said. “It’s been a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for me. Some guys learn dif­fer­ently. Some guys need a kick in the (rear). Some guys, you can’t be too hard on. You kind of have to kind of ob­serve the per­son­al­ity of the guy and what makes them go.”

Kings’ de­fen­sive coach Marco Sturm raved about Muzzin, who is 10 games from 500 in his eightyear ca­reer. “For a coach, he’s un­be­liev­able, be­cause he’s in the game every game,” Sturm said. “He wants to be the dif­fer­ence. He knows when he screws up, that he has to be bet­ter. Those things re­ally bother him, too.

“I think that’s some­thing that, es­pe­cially the younger guys, will def­i­nitely learn from him. It’s just how they can see how he is, even on the bench, just be­cause he wants to be good. That’s the thing. That’s his men­tal­ity.”

Fol­low­ing years of ic­ing a con­tender, a stretch that in­cludes two Stan­ley Cups, L.A. is last in the Western Con­fer­ence and 29th over­all. It’s likely the Kings will miss the play­offs for the third time in five sea­sons, which would give Muzzin and his wife Court­ney more time with their first child, which is due in April. “Ev­ery­one has just said ,‘ Get ready for your world to be rocked.’”

ETHAN MILLER/GETTY IM­AGES

Ref­eree Wes McCauley looks on as To­mas Nosek of the Ve­gas Golden Knights shoves Jake Muzzin of the Los An­ge­les Kings in the sec­ond pe­riod of their game at T-Mo­bile Arena on Dec. 23, 2018, in Las Ve­gas, Nev. While the Kings have strug­gled this year, Muzzin has el­e­vated his play, lead­ing the team in hits and blocked shots.

HARRY HOW/GETTY IM­AGES

Jake Muzzin of the Los An­ge­les Kings, cel­e­brates his goal with Alex Iafallo, Adrian Kempe, and Matt Luff, to take a 2-1 lead over the Win­nipeg Jets dur­ing the sec­ond pe­riod at Sta­ples Cen­ter on Dec. 18, 2018, in Los An­ge­les, Calif.

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