|Justin Williams (photo: D. Sheehan)|
Leave it to the the Blues to slow down the surging Justin Williams. He entered last night with points in nine straight games (four goals, seven assists). However, he has struggled against St. Louis throughout his career – finding the back of the net just once in 17 career games.
And like clock work, they shut him down again. Perhaps he’ll find some solace though in the fact that Jaroslav Halak didn’t let any of the other Kings score on him either.
Regardless, something seems to have changed in Williams’ approach of late. For example, he led the team in assists (seven), points (10), power play goals (three) and shots (39) in the month of January. So, what’s been going on?
“I’ve enjoyed the way Darryl (Sutter) has approached me, he’s given me a lot of confidence,” said Williams. “We’ve had a real good open dialogue. I’ve been able to consistently have a good effort day in and day out. I think as you get through the season, you get a little bit more in shape, you get a little bit more comfortable and you start to realize what you can get away with out there and what you can’t. I think hard work, and mainly effort, is the thing that’s driving me right now.”
He also went on to share a little more insight into the dialogue taking place with coach Sutter…
“He’s just instilling confidence in me. There are going to be mistakes. There’s going to be times where pucks are turned over and he lets you hear it. But, he also lets you hear the good stuff too.”
Tonight the Kings will try to get back on the winning track in Carolina, a city where Williams played for four-plus seasons before being traded to LA a few years ago. In 13 career games vs. the Hurricanes, he has seven points (three goals and four assists). He’ll certainly be looking to add to those totals this evening.