Justin Williams close to return
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- In dire need of some scoring punch heading into their Stanley Cup playoff opener Thursday in San Jose, the Los Angeles Kings are close to getting back second-leading scorer Justin Williams, even if he has to take on the Sharks with one good arm.
Williams, who sustained a dislocated right shoulder March 21 against Calgary, went through a full practice Monday at the Toyota Sports Center.
Afterward, the 29-year-old right wing said he was pleased with his progress and plans to make a decision on his availability closer to game day.
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"Everything has come along great," he said. "I feel comfortable and I want to maintain that comfort this week. If I do suit up for the game, I want to be able to bear it and not have any second thoughts."
Williams, who has 22 goals and 35 assists this season, has endured a number of injuries during his career but never a shoulder injury.
"New for me and new for my game," he said. "I don't know if I'll have to alter anything."
Williams returned from a knee injury about a month before last season's playoffs but couldn't regain his quickness and ended up sitting out three of six games in the first-round loss to the Vancouver Canucks.
Kings coach Terry Murray said this is an entirely different situation.
"His injury was just so severe last year that he lost too much strength, too much power to be able to get back to full strength and play the game the way he wanted to play," Murray said. "This is totally different to me. He has been working out basically from the day he injured himself ... he didn't let his body get away from that kind of conditioning."
Williams was examined by the team's medical staff during Saturday's regular-season finale against the Ducks and given the "green light to get himself ready," Murray said.
"Now, it all comes down to, how does he feel?" Murray said. "He's going to have to come to me and tell me that he's ready to go. That's going to be the bottom line. If that meeting happens after tomorrow's practice then I'm absolutely going to take a look at it and try to pencil him in somehow."
The team surely needs his offensive skill. In the nine games since he was injured, the Kings have scored 18 goals. In the seven games since leading scorer Anze Kopitar was lost for the season with a right ankle injury, the Kings have produced 11 goals, including just one on the power play in 22 opportunities.
Even with his addition, Williams said the key to beating San Jose will be on the defensive end.
"In the playoffs, everything is going to be tight," said Williams, who won the Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006. "Everything is going to be one-goal games."
The Kings are hoping Williams can provide that goal.
Dan Arritt covers the Kings for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
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