Justin Williams didn’t know what to expect when he joined the Kings in a three-team trade March 4, 2009. The only thing that was for certain was nothing was certain. Matters have changed dramatically for the veteran right wing, and for the Kings, too. Funny what a Stanley Cup championship and several long-term contract extensions for key players will do for an organization. Williams certainly has noticed a change in the club.
The defending Stanley Cup champions played like it in the second period, cutting the Blackhawks’ lead in half and generally dominating the play. It was nothing like their lackluster start in the first period of a win-or-go-home Game 5.
The Kings scored a shorthanded goal when Dwight King pounced on a rebound and slammed the puck behind Chicago goalie Corey Crawford. Justin Williams made the play happen with a determined rush down the ice and a shot on goal despite tight defensive pressure.
Justin Williams talked during Monday’s media session about watching the Kings’ 4-2 loss Sunday in Game 2 to the Chicago Blackhawks on video. Here’s more of what he said about what he saw from his team and from the Blackhawks:
“I’ve watched, actually, I just finished watching video of the game. There’s a lot of in-and-outs. There’s not a lot of sustained pressure. Given them credit. They’re a good checking team. They check you and try to get you frustrated. In turn, that’s what we try to do, but they’ve been more successful at it than we have.
“Do I feel we played a better game than in Game 1? Yes, but that’s what losers say.”
Here’s more from right wing Justin Williams from Monday’s limited media availability:
“We’ve been here, what? Three weeks ago? So, obviously, it’s four wins and go home. It’s not do or die tomorrow, but it is. I don’t know (why the Kings are 7-0 at home in the playoffs and 1-7 on the road). To tell you the truth, I don’t know why we went 10-1 last year on the road. I’m not sure. Preparation is key. We’re certainly not out of it. We’re going to do the best to cut this lead in half and go from there. Our focus is one game. That’s what it is when you’re down two. Cut it in half and the next day, you try again if you’re successful.”
Williams referred to the Kings’ 2-0 series deficit to the St. Louis Blues in the first round.
Dustin Brown went from playing left wing on a line with center Anze Kopitar and right wing Justin Williams to skating with third-liners Dwight King and Trevor Lewis during Wednesday’s practice. It remains to be seen if they’re together for Game 5 of the Kings’ second-round playoff series with the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
Here’s what Brown had to say:
Justin Williams hasn’t been shy about addressing the Kings’ lack of scoring punch during their second-round playoff series against the San Jose Sharks. The Kings have scored eight goals in four games for the same two goals-per-game average they had during their first-round victory over the St. Louis Blues. Williams wasn’t sure what to say when a reporter asked him about the struggles of line-mate Anze Kopitar.
Here’s the exchange:
Question: You’ve played alongside Kopitar and known him long enough, you’ve seen him go through slumps before, goal-scoring slumps before, do you see anything different in him now in terms of goals not going in?
Answer: (After about five seconds) Um.
Q: I mean he’s playing against some big boys, too, (the Blues’ David) Backes and the others.
A: (After about five more seconds) Um. Do I see anything different? I don’t know. I always think … I mean … Kopi’s our best player. I think he’s … regardless of whether he’s on the score sheet or not, he’s doing something to help the team. Just because he doesn’t score … I put a lot of the responsibility on myself, as well. It’s not as though you’re going to pass up a shot to give him one. Recently, we all haven’t done the necessary things to score goals come playoff time. He’s included in that, and a lot of players are. Yeah, I couldn’t say one way or another.”
Q: This is the time the best players have to be the best players. Is this happening for this team right now.?
A: “Obviously, not. We have some guys who are stepping up. But … I mean, it’s pure broken record is what it is. Scorers’ got to score. If they don’t score, they’ve got to create more offense. We’ve been out-played so far, top line to top line, in the series. We’re a proud bunch, and it’s 2-2. We’re still in a good spot here.”
Q: Do you think there will be any carryover from the way you ended Game 4?
A: “Every game’s different. Every game’s got its own story of ups and downs, momentum swings, push back. It’s in our building. We’ve had success here. We need to maintain that, obviously, because they’ve had success at home. We won the last game of the regular season for a reason. Let’s make it worth our while.”
The Kings were the first eighth-seeded team to win the Stanley Cup, making a little NHL history last year. They were the first team to win the Cup without the benefit of home-ice advantage in any of their four playoff rounds. So far this season, they look more like a typical team in the playoffs, struggling to win away from home. They are 1-3 away from Staples Center going into Game 4 on Tuesday at HP Pavilion in San Jose.
Kings right wing Justin Williams talked Monday about the need to make life more difficult for San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi in Game 4 of the teams’ second-round playoff series Tuesday night. He also spoke about great efficiency on the power-play.
Justin Williams called out the Kings’ best offensive players Monday afternoon. He was calm, cool and collected as he spoke after he and his teammates practiced at its El Segundo training facility and before they boarded their chartered flight for San Jose.
Jeff Carter scored his first goal of the playoffs in the Kings’ 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues in Game 4 on Monday night, after recording a team-leading 26 during during the regular season. Anze Kopitar scored his first goal since March 25, ending a 19-game drought. Justin Williams scored his second of the playoffs, the go-ahead strike. Here’s what Kings coach Darryl Sutter had to say about all of that:
“Jeff scores a great goal. ‘Willie’ has been good the whole series. Good to see ‘Kopi’ score. That’s what they’re supposed to do. That’s what series are about. If you covered the playoffs last year, it’s all about big goals, not who scores them. But at the same time, who normally leads your team in scoring, you have to be close to that.”
Willie is Williams, of course. Kopi is Kopitar.