Carolina Hurricanes Playoff Predictions: Justin “Mr. Game 7” Williams

The Carolina Hurricanes are getting ready for the playoffs

Carolina Hurricanes’ veteran standout Justin Williams will continue his return to hockey with a stellar playoff performance.

The Hurricanes were on a three-game losing streak and looking for a way out when Justin Williams returned to the Canes against the New York Islanders and scored the game-winning goal in the 8th round of the shootout.

No Caniac would contest that Justin Williams belongs in the Hurricane Hall of Fame, but I would argue that his accomplishments earn him a spot in the conversation of NHL legends.  His uncanny ability to show up for big games makes his name synonymous with the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Speculation is rampant on whether Justin Williams will retire after this season.  Williams has another shot at cementing his legacy as Mr. Game 7 in a playoff series that looked like it may not happen only a few months ago.

Justin Williams has had a quietly spectacular return to the Hurricanes organization this year.  When the Canes offense was struggling to produce, he put together a five-game point streak that helped keep the Canes in the playoff race before the season was paused.

Without Williams’ contribution, the team may have fallen out of the upcoming 24 team playoff contest where they will face the New York Rangers in the qualifying round.

Williams has set an example for the team by producing points with a consistent net-front presence. Even the best goalie can’t stop pucks when he can’t see the play in front of him, and Williams showed off his skills as a master of puck redirection during his five-game point streak.

While he may not show up on many highlight reels for fancy dekes or flashy play, Justin Williams is the very definition of a consistent, hard-working player. His contributions to the Canes have been memorable and I have no doubt that he will continue this same kind of performance in the impending 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Point contributions are not the end all be all for any legendary hockey player.  William’s contribution to the locker room will persist past his game seven records. Williams did not return to a Captain’s position this season, and this was as much his decision as it was the coaching staff.

Sara Civian quotes Coach Rod Brind’Amour in an article for The Athletic (paywall)  after asking him if Williams would receive a letter upon his return:

“No, no. We know what he is,” he said. “He’s going to be a great teammate, obviously a great leader we know that. He’s gonna help the leadership group we already have in a place like he did last year . . . we don’t need to put a letter on guys to do that. He’s gonna get his place in that locker room and assist the guys who are already doing a really good job.”

The true measure of a locker room leader is a player who doesn’t need a Captain’s letter to lead the team, and that is exactly the player that Justin Williams is. Captain Jordan Staal has learned from and emulated Williams, and his influence is evident throughout the Canes locker room.

How does Justin Williams factor into the impending series between the Canes and the Rangers? He will put his trademark stamp on the series by posting at the net and creating opportunities.  The best part is since the series will be a best of five we could see the emergence of a brand new nickname for the veteran game-changer of the Carolina Hurricanes.