As promised, we will pick a player for a chunk of games and focus on his performance. We will choose different players as we go along. Bobby and I talked and came up with our first – the promising rookie on defense – Jake Muzzin. Seeing as how he is about to kick off his NHL career, he may as well help us kick off this new feature.
With game 1 right around the corner tomorrow night in Vancouver, and Muzzin paired up with Drewiske, let’s talk expectations.
I’m banking that Jake sees about 14 minutes of ice time, up to 16 depending on how many powerplays the Kings get. There is some debate amongst fans whether Muzzin is a shutdown defenseman due to his size, or whether he can rack up some points from the backend as well. Murray has promised Muzzin a point position on the 2nd powerplay unit. Whether there is a second powerplay unit on defense for the Kings in the first place has to do with how tired Doughty and Johnson are at any given time.
Personally, I say he will get some nice secondary assists, mostly from quick up-ice passes, but from what I’ve seen I’m not convinced that his shot is NHL-effective just yet.
What always interests me is which forward groups get iced with the different pairings more regularly than not. Obviously there are 4 forward lines and only 3 defensive pairs, so there is bound to be overlap, but typically certain pairings, depending on their role will see more ice time with a particular line than another. For example, while we often want Doughty out with Kopitar at even strength, generally Drew and Mitchell will be out with the Handzus line, shutting down opposing teams’ top scoring units. For his first NHL game, Muzzin does not get the benefit of his coach having the last line change. I for one will be watching how quick Murray is to pull the Muzzin-Drewiske pairing off the ice when Vancouver throws out their goofy red-headed twin line against the Kings’ bottom pairing, which will likely be their prerogative. Or, will Murray trust Muzzin and Drewiske until they give him a reason not to?
In that sense, by virtue of starting on the road against the league’s top point producer last season is truly a trial by fire for Muzzin. He has yet to come up against such talent as that which was unfortunately bestowed upon those ugly beasts the Sedin twins. Composure will be key, and if there is one thing Muzzin has shown me in camp and preseason, it is that he has some serious composure. Eye of the tiger, if you will. Or lion. Like Bailey. His eyes kind of scare me. Bailey’s, not Muzzin’s. Speaking of Kyle Clifford, I digress. Focus Jacob, focus.
So for the next, oh, say 3 games, Bobby and I will have Jake Muzzin squarely in our focus. Perhaps you will pay special attention to our rookie on defense as well, and those others we choose as the season progresses. Should be fun.
How this is going to work is that during these 3 games, Bobby and I are going to keep an open, unabashed discourse going with each other about Muzzin; what we want to see, what we do see, and more than likely, what we disagree about having seen. At the end of the “In focus” period for each player, we will post our dialogue.
GO KINGS GO!