About That Shoulder: What to Really Expect From Justin Williams
He’s back! Problem solved! I mean, Kopitar is still down, but with Williams skating on the top line, the Kings can expect a huge surge in production. Right?
I hate to be a downer the day of Kings first playoff game against the San Jose Sharks, but if Justin Williams’ return to the lineup is what is going to help you sleep at night during the playoffs, better pop some Tylenol PM, because it’s not going to work. (We at Crowned Royal don’t encourage drug abuse, but may I suggest Benadryl PM and Crown Royal? It’s a much better route. Trust me, I know. I’m a Kings fan.) I digress.
Still fresh off a dislocated shoulder, the Kings can’t honestly expect anything memorable from Williams this postseason. Except, perhaps, another dislocated shoulder.
I speak from experience on this one. In the last 2 and a half years, I’ve dislocated my left shoulder 5 times. My first three were playing hockey. I can tell you that there is no way in hell I would have been able to play hockey a month after my first dislocation. Even worse news, my last dislocation was while wearing the same brace Williams is using; it’s not exactly the Iron Man suit built by Tony Stark. It’s a really expensive and annoying sports bra made out of Velcro and wet suit material.
I know. He’s a professional hockey player with access to the best medical treatment in the world. True. However, I played in a “zero contact” beer league. He’s going to be getting hit by guys who do it for a living. His shoulder isn’t magic. The fact of the situation is that a shoulder, once dislocated, will dislocate again. Or, as my doctor so bluntly said, “Once you pop, the fun don’t stop.” Asshole.
You can’t get away from it. It isn’t a maybe. It’s a definite. And, that’s even with a fully rehab-ed shoulder. Not one that was slapped together in a month.
I’m not saying he shouldn’t play. He needs to. It’s his job. The team needs him about as badly as The Mouth needs a drink. But to expect production from him is lunacy. It shows the level of desperation the club is in. They’ll take anything they can get, even if it’s just one shoulder.
Williams isn’t ready to come back and play at a competitive level. He didn’t inform the coaching staff that he would return until they forced his hand and created a deadline to make the call a day before the playoffs started. Usually, players are chomping at the bit to hit the ice again, especially in the playoffs.
This isn’t anything against Williams. He isn’t a machine that gets a new part and is instantly as good as the day you got him. He needs time to heal properly. He’ll be playing scared. Watch the first time he goes into the corner chasing a puck. I bet he’ll back off the puck and let the defender beat him. Why? He knows what will happen if he hits those boards. Shoulder could come right out.
I’d also be willing to bet that he does anything possible (including turning the puck over) to avoid any kind of body contact or falling. Why? He hits that ice hard enough, that shoulder is coming out. I don’t care if he’s wearing a brace or not.
The Sharks aren’t stupid, either. They are going to be targeting Williams’ shoulder more than the net. They have access to Rich Hammond’s blog, too. They know what’s going on.
I hope I’m wrong. I really do. But I’m preparing myself for reality. Chances are that Williams will be largely ineffective in the first round, and that’s if he manages to escape injury.
Let’s hope for the best. My expectations are riding on Dustin Penner, Drew Doughty, and Jonathan Quick to get us out of this one.