When Kings forward Justin Williams went down with a dislocated shoulder three weeks ago, at the time the Kings didn’t know it’d be the least of their worries offensively. Williams and his 22 goals and 35 assists tied him for second on the team in scoring with Dustin Brown behind Anze Kopitar. With Kopitar out for the rest of the playoffs with a broken ankle, getting Williams back in the lineup as soon as possible became the top priority.
The Kings can stop worrying about that now as Williams is expected to be in the Kings lineup for Game 1 against San Jose on Thursday night. Without Kopitar, Williams figures to end up on a line with either Jarrett Stoll or even Michal Handzus. With Williams set along the right wing, they’ll be hoping his shoulder will be strong enough and stable enough.
Kings coach Terry Murray tells Rich Hammond at the Kings website that Williams shouldn’t have any issues.
“He’s got the green light. It’s 100 percent,” Murray said after Tuesday’s practice. “His strength is great. He did all the testing. The only restriction would be because of the shoulder harness that he’s wearing. Scratching the top of your head is basically what he couldn’t do.”
Let’s just make sure they’ve got someone to help him get his helmet on just to be safe.
Playing through an injury like this comes with risks. Playing so relatively soon after a dislocation leaves you susceptible to having it pop out again with minimal jarring. Williams wearing a harness to keep his shoulder from moving in too wide a range is going to help him, but if it gets re-aggravated don’t be shocked.
The Kings come into the playoffs as the lowest scoring team of the 16 in the postseason. To be able to beat the Sharks, the Kings will need to be defensively stellar but they’re also going to desperately need the goals from Williams and Brown and Ryan Smyth as well. Don’t expect the Sharks to play nice and go lightly on Williams.
The wait is finally over. The 2016 Stanley Cup Final is about to begin.
Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks received some time to lick their wounds after three grueling playoff rounds, so expect Game 1 to be fun, even if there might be a subtle bit of rust here or there.
The star power is considerable. The beards are burly (at least on the Sharks’ side). It’s time to get cracking.
Game 1 airs on NBC. You can also stream it via the link below and enjoy some “NHL Live” coverage leading in.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Plenty of people believe that the San Jose Sharks’ defense is superior to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ personnel, but it’s one thing to be better on paper. When you’re on the ice, against a speedy and talented team, can you really stop the Penguins?
All signs point to sorely underrated Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic drawing the difficult assignment of trying to slow down Sidney Crosby.
Vlasic, a former Team Canada teammate of Crosby (as you can see from this post’s main image), realizes that he’ll have his hands full. In fact, he seems to believe that this will be an even tougher challenge than trying to solve St. Louis Blues sniper Vladimir Tarasenko.
The fantastic all-around defender isn’t exactly expecting to reinvent the wheel in his strategy against Crosby.
“It will be the same as in the first three series,” Vlasic said, via The Hockey News. “We’re playing against the top players on every time – Sid, (Evgeni) Malkin and those types of guys for Pittsburgh. Me and (Justin Braun) will just keep doing what we did, taking away time and space and hopefully it works out.”
The two players have had glowing things to say about each other for some time, but don’t be surprised if this high-level competition turns those happy thoughts into hard feelings.
It stands as one of the matchups to watch in what could be a fresh and fascinating Stanley Cup Final.
This summer looks like it could be one of changes for the Detroit Red Wings, even beyond the most obvious storyline of Pavel Datsyuk‘s future.
One area where the Red Wings would like to make some tweaks is in net, namely in trading Jimmy Howard. The Detroit Free-Press points out that GM Ken Holland admitted that moving the former franchise netminder “might be good for the organization.”
It’s reasonable to wonder what kind of market there will be for Howard, whose deal ($5.29 million cap hit through 2018-19) looks pretty tough to stomach on paper.
Maybe it’s best to consider the Red Wings’ options if Howard starts the 2016-17 season off on a strong note, or something of that nature. Perhaps an expansion draft could “solve” that problem if Detroit cannot find any takers?
The Red Wings remain forward-thinking and patient, which likely explains why the Free-Press focuses on their confidence with prospect Jared Coreau.
“In the big scheme of things, he’ll play in Grand Rapids for another year, but now we know he can play a lot of minutes if needed,” Goalie coach Jeff Salajko said. “Jimmy Howard played four years in the minors. We’re not rushing Jared, but he is going to be an NHL goalie, there is no doubt in my mind about that.”
In other words, a pairing of Petr Mrazek and Coreau wouldn’t just be a cost-effective duo … it might just be the Red Wings’ ideal scenario in the not-too-distant future.
From the NHL:
Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.
Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.