After scoring 11 points and recording a plus-10 rating in 17 games, LA Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin was named the NHL’s rookie of the month for March on Monday.
Muzzin, 24, is an interesting story. He was selected by the Pens at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, but went unsigned by Pittsburgh and proceeded to ink a free agent deal with the Kings in 2010.
He made the Kings out of training camp that fall, and appeared in 11 games before LA opted to use Alec Martinez in the defensive rotation.
Muzzin spent all of 2011-12 in AHL Manchester and was recalled for last year’s playoff run as a black ace. He was on the winning roster, but didn’t participate in any games and didn’t have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup.
This year was supposed to be more of the same — until Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene were lost to injury (Mitchell hasn’t played this year and is a “long shot” to return; Greene’s only played once but has an outside shot of returning for the playoffs.)
Muzzin has taken full advantage of the playing opportunity. He sits second on the team in d-man scoring — tied with Drew Doughty on 14 points — and is averaging over 18 minutes per game.
As for who he edged out for March’s rookie of the month honors?
— Chicago LW Brandon Saad had 15 points in 14 games.
— Florida center Jonathan Huberdeau had 12 points in 16 games.
— Blues goalie Jake Allen went 5-2-0 with a 2.33 GAA and one shutout.
PHT Morning Skate: NHL could become a 34-team league in near future
The Edmonton Oilers have at least started to show some signs of life in recent games. They were shutout on Sunday night in Toronto, but sandwiched around that game were a convincing 6-2 win in Montreal and then a thoroughly dominating 7-2 win in Columbus on Tuesday night that left Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella completely speechless.
Leading the way for the Oilers was captain Connor McDavid as he went off with a four-point night.
The four points are a season high for him and the fifth time this season he has recorded at least three points.
That performance gives him 39 points in 31 games on the season and currently has him third in the NHL scoring race, three points behind Tampa Bay Lightning teammates Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos.
Marc-Andre Fleury made is return to the Vegas Golden Knights net and looked great, stopping 35 of the 37 shots he faced. Unfortunately that was not enough to get Vegas a win as they fell in a shootout to the Carolina Hurricanes, 3-2.
One of those two shots in regulation that beat him? It was this.
That is unfortunate.
Still, that is another point for Vegas as they continue their push for a playoff spot in the Western Conference during their inaugural season in the NHL.
Highlight Of The Night
The Philadelphia Flyers were 4-2 winners over the Toronto Maple Leafs and have now, suddenly, won four games in a row following a 10-game losing streak.
They picked up the winner on Tuesday thanks to this goal that featured a crazy between-the-legs pass.
— By stopping all 32 shots he faced against the St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up his 20th win of the season. He is just the sixth goalie in NHL history to win at least 20 games within his first 25 starts of a season. [NHL Public Relations]
— Matt Cullen scored his 250th career goal in the Minnesota Wild’s 2-1 shootout win over the Calgary Flames, making him the 29th American-born player in NHL history to reach that mark. [Minnesota Wild PR]
— Carolina Hurricanes goalies Cam Ward recorded his 300th career win on Tuesday night in their 3-2 shootout win over the Vegas Golden Knights. He is the fifth active goaltender to reach that mark. [NHL Public Relations]
Tuesday’s game in St. Louis was a showdown featuring the top two teams in the NHL.
In the end it was the Lightning picking up the 3-0 win to extend their current winning streak to five games and to reclaim sole possession of the No. 1 spot in the NHL.
Their win improves them to 22-6-2 on the season and puts them two points ahead of the Blues despite having played two fewer games.
It was another impressive showing for Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy who has been one of the underrated stars of this year’s Lightning team. Most of the attention has been directed to forwards Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov (and deservedly so!) but let’s not lose sight of the fact that Vasilevskiy, in his first full season as the Lighting’s full-time starter, has been one of the best goalies in the league so far.
Tuesday’s game was his third shutout of the season, and after his 32-save performance against the Blues his .933 save percentage is among the best in the NHL, while his 20 wins (in only 25 starts) are tops in the league. Nobody else in the league has more than 17.
While Vasilevskiy was shining in net again, Kucherov scored his 21st goal of the season to move back into a tie with Alex Ovechkin for the top spot in the league. It was also his 42nd point which moved him into a tie with Stamkos for the league lead.
Brayden Point also continued his breakout season by opening the scoring with his 13th goal of the season. He also added an assist on Tyler Johnson‘s third period goal.