The three-time Stanley Cup champion is known as ‘Mr. Game 7,’ which will come in handy for a franchise that has seen its offense dry up at the worst times in recent years.
The Washington Capitals have signed right winger Justin Williams to a two-year contract worth $6.5 million and for a team that has seen its offense evaporate in the most crucial games of the year lately, the guy they call ‘Mr. Game 7,’ seems to be in the perfect spot.
Williams, who won two Stanley Cups in Los Angeles in recent years (plus one in Carolina before that), joins a Capitals team that hasn’t been able to get over the playoff hump in what have otherwise been salad days during the Alex Ovechkin era. In the past two post-season runs by the franchise, the Caps have lost in Game 7 to the New York Rangers after holding a 3-2 series lead. In 2013, Washington was shut out completely in the last two games, while this year’s incarnation managed just one goal against Henrik Lundqvist as the Rangers triumphed 2-1 in overtime on a Derek Stepan dagger. Perhaps Williams will be the tonic once the Caps head into the playoffs in 2016. He was the 2014 Conn Smythe winner thanks to his offensive outbursts for Los Angeles – and always did damage when the Kings were playing in Game 7, which they did three times before the final against New York. Because Washington is built for now. The team doesn’t have any obvious weaknesses, with Braden Holtby ascending in net, a stacked blueline with previous Cup winners in Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen, plus that Ovie-fuelled offense up front, augmented by running mate Nicklas Backstrom. Williams’ clutch scoring in the post-season has become the stuff of legend and his ability to elevate his game when the pressure is hottest will make him a bit unique in Washington. Though he will be 34 once the season starts, Williams will also be refreshed thanks to L.A. missing the playoffs this season. And with the pact coming in at just two years, there’s not much risk for the Capitals – only potential reward.