In his third game with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jake Muzzin showed his offensive capabilities while dishing out some punishments.
Give Mike Babcock credit; instead of throwing too much at the newly acquired defenceman out of the gate, he is giving Muzzin a chance to play his game. In the Leafs’ 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks, Muzzin had three points including his first career goal in Toronto.
It is easy to get overly excited by one performance, but you can see why the 29-year-old was the ideal target for Kyle Dubas and company. Not only has Muzzin showed his ability to be physical with some crushing hits, but he also showed that he can be a contributor offensively.
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The Leafs have had physical defencemen before, but they usually lacked in other areas and this is why Muzzin is a breath of fresh air. He has the shot from the point which came in handy against the Ducks, is willing to close the gap on forwards, has a good outlet pass and brings that physical play which makes him the well-rounded defenceman contending teams need.
The Woodstock, Ont., native understands what he needs to do to be successful in today’s NHL which favours faster-skilled players. Luckily for the Leafs, Muzzin hasn’t shown any difficulty adjusting to a more uptempo style.
It is no secret diehard Leafs fans appreciate what Muzzin can bring on any given night and the excitement even caught him off guard a bit. What Leafs Nation is learning to appreciate is a player who can play a physical style but still have an impact in other areas.
For those interested in analytics, they will appreciate the fact that Muzzin has a 61.40 CF% and a 63.64 FF% in all situations through his first three games. Seeing Muzzin limiting the chances the Leafs give up will be a welcomed sight against tougher teams like Boston and Tampa Bay.
Going forward, you can only hope Muzzin will continue to improve as he becomes more familiar with his role, considering the Leafs schedule will get tough with a long road trip upcoming. At least he’s brought the much-needed breath of fresh air the Leafs have been looking for and whether they plan to do more remains to be seen.
What do you think about Muzzin’s impact so far? Do you think he can continue to improve? Let us know in the comments below.