As a group of reporters crowded Capitals forward Justin Williams after Wednesday’s morning skate, one of his teammates sarcastically shouted, “I wonder what the first question will be.”
After all, of course reporters wanted to speak to the man nicknamed “Mr. Game 7” on the eve of Game 7.
The Capitals and the Penguins will play a deciding game Wednesday and Williams has made a career of living in those moments.
“It’s going to be a fight of will and I can tell you one thing: I’m going to give everything I have tonight and make sure I don’t let my teammates down and everyone in this room is going to do the same and we’ll be fine,” Williams said.
But for all his accolades, this is will be Williams‘ first Game 7 with the Capitals.
Williams has spent 16 seasons in the NHL, but only the last two with the Capitals. The 35-year-old spent the majority of his career with the Los Angeles Kings and has three Stanley Cups, two with the Kings and one with the Carolina Hurricanes. He even won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2014 for the most valuable player in the playoffs.
Williams was signed to a two-year, $6.5 million contract in 2015 to help give the Capitals championship experience. Along with Brooks Orpik, Williams is the only other player on Washington who has won a Stanley Cup.
“I don’t have any doubts what Justin is going to bring,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “He’s going to bring his all, and his all is pretty good.”
Even though Williams has earned it, he actually doesn’t like his nickname. After Game 5 against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, Williams tried to downplay any talk of his heroics despite scoring the game-winning goal.
Williams, though, has had a quiet series against the Penguins. He has yet to score a goal and has three assists.
Capitals forward T.J. Oshie is still excited to see what Williams can bring.
“We all know the level of competitiveness he’s able to bring himself to, almost a competitive calmness that a lot of us aren’t able to find,” Oshie said. “We’ll look for him, along with a lot of other guys, to have big games to night.”
Williams will need one goal to break the all-time record for most goals in a Game 7, a record he shares currently with Glenn Anderson. He already holds the record for most points in a Game 7.
Despite his experience, Williams admitted it’s hard to be relaxed for a game like this. He said the main thing is using his nervousness as a positive and not shy away from success.
“This is not the apex, but this is pretty close,” Williams said. “This is the stuff that you’re thinking of when you’re a kid. This is Game 7. This is do or die. This is win or go home. This is everyone’s watching let’s see what you’ve got.
“As I said, we’ll be ready.”
Game 7 is at the Verizon Center at 7:30 p.m.
Copyright © 2017 The Washington Times, LLC.