Justin Williams has played in 18 games this season on a line with Anze Kopitar and Ryan Smyth. In those 18 games, the trio has combined for 61 points (23 goals, 38 assists). They’ll get a chance to recapture that magic Friday night, when they play together against the Dallas Stars.
It will be Williams’ first game since he broke his leg on Dec. 26 against Phoenix. Williams has eight goals and 16 assists in 33 games this season. Here’s what he had to say about his return…
WILLIAMS: “I’ll be having a grin on my face for a while. I have, ever since I’ve known that I’ve been close. It will just be good to be in the room again, getting ready for a game and put the jersey on and enjoy this playoff run. This is going to be fun.”
Question: And you get to go back to playing with your old linemates…
WILLIAMS: “I do? Oh. This is news. I don’t know in what capacity he [Terry Murray] was going to use me, or how much, but I’m ready to rock. I don’t think I need to be coddled or whatnot. I’m going to try to make an impact right away.”
Question: So what was your target date all along?
WILLIAMS: “It was the last game. I missed it. When I got injured, I flipped through the calendar and I was like, `You know what? I could maybe do this date?’ It was close. I was one game off. I was pretty close. I’m happy I can be back, because I didn’t know how long I was going to be out for. I feel good and I just want to be involved. I don’t want to sit on the sidelines anymore. Watching this team be successful, I want to be a part of it. The best part of the year is right now.”
Question: Given what the intial timetable was (at least three months), it’s safe to say you were pretty far ahead of schedule, right?
WILLIAMS: “Yeah, I would imagine. It’s so different for rehab for the average person and an athlete. I’m getting the best care here. The guys have worked with me, the training staff, coming in after hours, during the Olympic break. They’ve done all they can to get me back, and I’ve done the same in turn, so I’m grateful for that.”
Question: You’ve come back from big injuries before. What’s the most important thing to work on, in those first few games back?
WILLIAMS: “I think it’s your mind, getting your mind right. Just realizing that injuries happen, and they’re freak injuries. They’re not anything that I should feel I could have avoided. I’m going to go in the corners. I’m going to be the first one in, to hit, to get into the game or to get hit, just to get myself involved and let adrenaline take over and let instinct take over. That’s what us hockey players use. We don’t need to be cautious, or we’re going to get hurt again.”