No one knew the extent of Justin Williams’ injury after he was destroyed in the corner last night by Flames’ defenseman Robyn Regehr. From the moment he hit the glass, it didn’t look good for Williams or the Kings. He immediately skated off the ice holding his shoulder, walked down the tunnel, and never returned. The Kings ended up winning the game in a shootout, but the loss of Williams will have longer lasting effects than a single victory.
Today, the Kings organization announced that Williams dislocated his shoulder on the hit and will be out 3-4 weeks. If everything goes without a hitch, he should be available to the Kings near the end of the first round or the beginning of the second round. For a team battling for a playoff spot, assuming a first or second round return might be putting the cart before the horse. On the possibility of Williams coming back during the playoffs, Terry Murray explained the importance of caution:
“It will be a rehab process now. Give it a chance and see how it comes around. Obviously there will have to be a harness worn, as you come back and start to see if it’s going to work or not, and make a decision as to whether he can play or what it will be like after four weeks of rehab.”
For a team in desperate need of some goal scoring, this couldn’t have come at a worse time. The Kings are 1-1-1 over their last three, but have only mustered a total of 2 goals over the 190 minutes of playing time. For his part, Williams is second on the team in scoring with 22 goals and 35 assists for 57 points. Playing with Jarret Stoll and Ryan Smyth, he’s been the focal point of the Kings’ strong second line for the majority of the season.
Los Angeles has called up 22-year-old Oscar Moller from Manchester to replace the versatile Williams. He’s scored a total of 12 goals and 13 assists in his 78 game NHL career. This season, he put up three points (1g, 2a) in four games with the big club. While the right wing was down with the Monarchs in the AHL, he was able to score 23 goals in 59 games.
It’s probably a little too much to ask for the young Moller to step right in and fill Justin Williams’ skates in the middle of a playoff fight. If the Kings want to hold onto their playoff spot, they’re going to need everyone on the team to step up and put goals on the scoreboard. Terry Murray said that he’ll expect more from everyone—specifically calling out both Wayne Simmonds and Alexei Ponikarovsky. There’s no question the Kings would like for Ponikarovsky to improve on the 5 goals he’s scored this season; but more goals from guys like Ryan Smyth, Dustin Brown, Dustin Penner, and Jarret Stoll would go a long way towards filling the void as well.