One player who certainly won’t be coming out of the lineup, based on Terry Murray’s comments today, is Justin Williams. I talked to Williams today about returning to Carolina, where he spent parts of five seasons and won the Stanley Cup, but first, Murray had high praise for Williams’ game, particularly his game last night.
Williams hasn’t had the flashy start of Anze Kopitar and wasn’t a high profile addition like Ryan Smyth, but he has 13 points in 13 games, and point-per-game players don’t grow on trees, and neither do players who make good decisions with the puck and know exactly where to get it to dynamic scorers such as Kopitar. Here’s what Murray said today about Williams…
MURRAY: “Justin, in particular, last night, he had a really good 60 minutes. He played the kind of game that I saw him play here in Carolina, and also back in the Flyer days when he was there and kind of in and out of the lineup as a young player. You could see some good things, when he was on top of it, and then when he came here he really broke his game open. He contributed very well. He’s smart with the puck, he’s quick, he’s going to make plays and he’s finding that role with us on a consistent basis, with Kopitar and Smyth right now, and he’s a real important part of that line because of that attitude of playing the give-and-go game. That suits Ryan Smyth best, and Kopi is having a great start to the season, feeding off both of those guys.
“Whenever Williams is on his game, it’s those short, 10-foot, 15-foot plays that he’s making. It’s a little handoff in the offensive zone, from the top of the circle, half-board, down to the goal line, breaking hard to the net and getting a little return pass, quick release. That kind of game is what we need, and what we want from him on a consistent basis. Recently, that’s exactly what we’re getting. It’s just beating guys off the boards. It’s jumping by defensemen. It’s a quick turn, a quick pivot. It’s avoiding that contract to stay loose to avoid the pressure and continuing to make plays.”