Kings looking to Ducks for help; Justin Williams returns to the ice
This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.
The Kings found themselves in an unaccustomed position Sunday: rooting for the Ducks.
A victory by the Ducks over the Dallas Stars on Sunday in regulation would clinch a playoff berth for the Kings and the Ducks -- as well as for the Phoenix Coyotes.
“Go Ducks,” defenseman Jack Johnson said after the Kings practiced in El Segundo and prepared for their flight to San Jose for Monday’s game against the Sharks.
The Kings and Ducks have never made the playoffs in the same season, so it’s odd that they could change that bit of history on the same day. The Ducks missed the playoffs last season while the Kings qualified for the first time since 2002.
After a six-game, first-round elimination at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks last spring the Kings entered this season with high expectations. They experienced some extremes in successes and slumps and lost the production and creativity of forwards Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar in the last two weeks, but they’re fourth in the ultra-competitive Western Conference and might earn home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
“Definitely our No. 1 goal coming into the season was making the playoffs. Surpassing what we did last year and getting further and deeper and, hopefully, winning is all we want,” center Jarret Stoll said. “That hasn’t changed.
“It’s been a lot of hard work. It’s been a long year. There’s been lots of ups and downs. There’s been a couple big downs, a couple big ups.”
Defenseman Drew Doughty, who said he wasn’t aware of the triple-clinching scenario, said the Kings have ample incentive to play hard in their final games even if they clinch a playoff berth Sunday.
“With these four games remaining we definitely want to win every single one of them, just because I think it’s good to go on a roll into the playoffs and have that confidence as a team,” he said. “If we get five straight wins that’s definitely going to build our confidence. ... We want to secure the highest spot we can.”
Coach Terry Murray got a pleasant surprise when Williams skated, one day short of two weeks since the speedy right wing dislocated his right shoulder. It was Williams’ first time on skates since the injury and he was wearing a restrictive harness and noncontact jersey, but he was able to shoot and stickhandle and maintain his conditioning.
“He’s looking good. He’s obviously doing a lot of rehab on that shoulder and he’s getting some real solid definition there that I haven’t noticed before,” Murray said. “That’s a good thing. We’ll let another week go by with rehab and skating and see where he’s at.”
Williams was all smiles after his session, though he acknowledged that he doesn’t like the harness.
“It’s doing its purpose. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” he said.
He also said he’s due to take a strength test this week. The original plan was for him to try to regain 80% of the strength in the shoulder before allowing him to play while wearing the harness.
“The main part is just being comfortable on the ice and not thinking about it,” he said. “This is a good step today in the right direction.”
Goaltender Jonathan Quick will start Monday at San Jose, and the lineup will be the same as it was in the Kings’ 3-1 victory over Dallas on Saturday, Murray said.
Check back later for more at latimes.com/sports
-- Helene Elliott