Woodstock native Jake Muzzin reaching NHL milestones

LA Kings defenceman Jake Muzzin, of Woodstock, surpasses 50 goals, closing in on 500 games – and his first child

Jake Muzzin of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates his goal with Alex Iafallo #19, Adrian Kempe #9, and Matt Luff #64, to take a 2-1 lead over the Winnipeg Jets during the second period at Staples Center on Dec. 18, 2018 in Los Angeles. Harry How/Getty Images

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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.

“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 eight-year 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.’”