Surly told you of our first player “Focus”, rookie defenseman Jake Muzzin. I will tell you specifically what I intend to focus on. Surly may have additional areas as each of our evaluations will be independent.
1. The Blue Line: Attackers through the neutral zone mean defensemen play at their blue line, back. How will Jake force the play to the outside or neutralize it?
2. Lanes: If the opposing offense gains control of the puck in the Kings’ zone, good defensemen block passing and shooting lanes. They also force the play into the corners and away from the center of the ice.
3. Crease: Here we focus on Jake’s handling of traffic in front of his goalie including those caused by, gasp, rebounds.
4. Transition: Moving the puck fast and accurate for the transition game to offense. Joining the offense.
5. Offensive zone: Keeping the puck in the zone, accurate passes that help the forwards open up shooting lanes, shots low and hard on net to create rebounds, quick transition to defense with skating being paramount.
6. Intangibles: (a) Hit hard and pin and (b) Avoid turnovers.
We will of course take into consideration that this is our young stud’s first NHL regular season game. Nothing is evaluated in a vacuum. That is why the Focus on any player will go on for 5-10 games. I am sure his family in Ontario will be watching his every move. To them, I send my best. Here’s to Jake’s development and progress!