For most of this season, the Kings have crossed their fingers, knocked on wood and hoped that the injury bug would avoid striking them seriously. Luck ran out this week.
has been diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder and is expected to miss at least 3-4 weeks. That means Williams is all but certain to miss the rest of the regular season and retains at least a chance of returning for the playoffs, if the Kings qualify.
Williams had to leave Monday night’s game in the middle of the third period after being checked into the boards by Robyn Regehr. Williams skated off the ice, holding his arm awkwardly, went directly to the locker room and did not return to the Kings’ bench.
|Justin Williams suffered a separated shoulder in the 3rd period yesterday against Calgary. |
``It will be a rehab process now,’’ coach Terry Murray said after Tuesday’s practice. ``Give it a chance and see how it comes around. Obviously there will have to be a harness worn, as you come back and start to see if it's going to work or not, and make a decision as to whether he can play or what it will be like after four weeks of rehab.''
Williams had played in all 73 games this season, enjoying something of a resurgence after three injury-filled seasons with the Kings and Carolina Hurricanes. Williams is second on the Kings in points (57) and third in goals (22) and assists (35) this season.
Williams, who most recently had been playing a first-line right-wing role alongside Anze Kopitar
and Dustin Penner
, signed a four-year contract extension last month.LINEUP SHUFFLE
The Kings were expected to call up winger Oscar Moller from Manchester of the American Hockey League, likely to replace Williams in a top-six role.
In practice Tuesday, enforcer Kevin Westgarth
was a temporary fill-in on the first line, but it remains to be seen exactly how Murray will choose to use Moller.Kyle Clifford
, who has missed two games because of a head injury, made it through a second consecutive day of practice and has been cleared to play Thursday, Murray said. Clifford practiced on a line with Brad Richardson
and Trevor Lewis
``It's hard to match the production,’’ Murray said, referring to the loss of Williams. ``He's had a good year. He has played well, right from the very first day. When you start losing offense, it seems like it never ends, where you're searching for that kind of a player. You can have a good hockey club, and you're still saying, `Gee, we could still use a little bit more on the offensive part of the game.'
``So, I don't know. We're just going to have to find a way to get some scoring here from other places. I don't want to put anybody out there, but I'd like to see Poni [Alexei Ponikarovsky] score more. His resume shows that he's a 20-, 25-goal scorer. I'd like to see that start to come together. Simmer [Wayne Simmonds], his numbers are not where they were last year, but the potential is there to put some goals in the net. So, I think, just other people have to start to chip in, from the forwards right through to the back end.’’
The Kings stayed with a second line of Michal Handzus centering Ryan Smyth and Dustin Brown
, and a third line of Jarret Stoll
centering Ponikarovsky and Simmonds.