Williams Watch `11 continued this morning, as Justin Williams participated in another full practice and even volunteered himself for some contact in drills with Drew Doughty. After practice, Terry Murray reiterated that Williams’ status for Game 1 against San Jose is completely in Williams’ hands, and once again, Williams stopped short of saying he felt comfortable enough to play, but also didn’t indicate that he intended to miss the game, either. So, we’ll see. After practice, both Williams and Murray shared their thoughts on Williams’ possible return, starting with Williams talking about his upcoming meeting with Murray…
WILLIAMS: “I’ll just give him an update on myself and how I’ve been doing the last two days. Since contact came in, I’ve felt fine. I battled Dewey a little bit today and felt fine. So I’m basically going to talk to him about my status. Overall, it felt better than yesterday. I hope tomorrow feels better than today. That’s all I can say, really.”
Question: What did you tell Drew, in terms of bumping you out there?
WILLIAMS: “I just told him to play me hard, battle a little bit. Because a lot of my game is shaking off checks. If I’m not comfortable, and I can’t do that, my impact goes down drastically. … The trick is to not let them [opponents] hit you.”
Question: Are you likely to make the decision by tomorrow at the latest?
WILLIAMS: “Probably, yeah. Probably. Not just me, but Terry as well.”
Question: Does the harness restrict you at all?
WILLIAMS: “The brace limits me a little bit, yeah. I mean, it has to. It doesn’t put me in a vulnerable position. It’s not comfortable, but you have to do what you have to do out there.”
Question: Are you looking at having surgery in the summer?
WILLIAMS: “I don’t know. I’ll probably know more at the 6-8 week mark. You get another MRI, you do whatever you’ve got to do. But it’s probably an option that I’m looking hard at.”
And here are Murray’s thoughts about Williams’ potential return, starting with the response to a question about the “criteria” for Williams’ return in Game 1…
MURRAY: “The criteria, now, is for Justin Williams to come and tell me that he felt good in practice, comfortable with his competitive battles along the boards and that he can play. The doctors talked to him and met with him at the last game of the season, at the Staples Center, and he has basically been given the green light to play. So now it’s up to him.”
Question: Is it possible that it would be a game-day decision?
MURRAY: “I’d like to know the day before. I really don’t like to leave it, in any situation, where the player is coming in for the morning skate and (it’s). `I’ll let you know after that, how I’m feeling.’ I don’t think it’s fair to the team. I think you, as a player, know how you’re doing the day before. You can make a decision based on how practice was, how you’re feeling, how you competed, how comfortable you are. `I’m in, yes. I’m out, no.’ To me, that’s the right thing to do.”
Question: Have you penciled in scenarios, what the lineup might look like with Justin?
MURRAY: “I have. They’re there, waiting for me on the corner of the desk, and if I need to go to it, I will. I’ll just wait and see. In fact, I’ll go and ask and talk with him today, and see how he came through the practice.”
Question: At the start, would he fit into a top-six role right away?
MURRAY: “Absolutely. If he’s ready to go, he needs to fit right up on the top two lines, absolutely, and play with your top-six forwards. Again, to me, it’s a big change from where he was last year with his leg. This, he’s got the green light. It’s 100 percent. 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. If he’s feeling confident, that’s the threshold. We’re now talking about Marco Sturm, when he was here. It was a matter of you getting over that threshold, you making that decision as a player that you feel comfortable that you can play your game. That’s what I’m looking for from Justin Williams.”
Question: Knowing the situation, and knowing him, do you expect him to play?
MURRAY: “Yeah. He’s put in so much work since the injury. He’s been gearing himself mentally, right from the time he was injured, to get ready to play in the playoffs. So I do expect that, and I just need to hear it.”