Kings' Justin Williams: 'I'm a go' for playoff opener
Right wing Justin Williams told Coach Terry Murray after Wednesday’s practice that he feels prepared to play in the Kings’ playoff opener Thursday at San Jose, three weeks and three days after he suffered a dislocated right shoulder.
Williams and Murray met Tuesday and decided to let Williams go through one more practice before declaring himself in or out. Williams didn’t skate on a line Wednesday — he and injured winger Scott Parse were the only two players wearing gray jerseys — but he went to Murray after the session and pronounced himself ready.
“I told coach I’m a go for tomorrow night. I should be in the lineup,” said Williams, who will continue to wear a restrictive harness on that shoulder and likely will need surgery this summer.
“I’m comfortable as I’ll ever be. I’m confident I’m going to make an impact. I don’t want to sit on the sidelines anymore.”
Murray didn’t want to wait until Thursday’s game-day skate to get Williams’ decision and probably would have liked to know before Wednesday’s practice so he could have had a full session with Williams on whatever line he will play on against the Sharks. Murray said he’s not sure how he will reconfigure his lines. “We’ll find a place,” Murray said.
Williams’ return should be a boost for a low-power offense that has declined since he and center Anze Kopitar were forced out of the lineup by injuries. Kopitar is out for the season after undergoing ankle surgery.
Williams, who had 22 goals and 57 points in 73 games, said it wasn’t difficult to gear himself up mentally to play at less-than-optimal condition — and he has had a lot of practice at it over the years.
“Everyone plays with an injury. This time of year mine seems to be more public knowledge, I guess,” he said. “I don’t think anyone’s 100%. Guys are sitting there banged up too. I seem to have a little bit of experience coming back from injuries and trying to come back mentally as strong as you were when you left.
“I haven’t been out very long. I’m confident I’m going to be fine so I’m going to give it a go.”
He also said he didn’t feel pressured to return because Kopitar is gone.
“It had nothing to do with Kopitar being out. Even if he was playing I’d be doing the same thing,” Williams said. “I’m an important part of this team offensively and if I feel I can help the team, which I know I can, I’m going to tell the coach I can play.”
Which he did.
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-- Helene Elliott
Photo: Kings Justin Williams skates against the Atlanta Thrashers Oct. 12, 2010. Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times