Dallas Stars: there is nothing wrong with Jamie Benn

DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 23: Aaron Ekblad
DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 23: Aaron Ekblad /

Despite rumors and allegations to the contrary, Dallas Stars’ captain, Jamie Benn, provides his usual brand of leadership in a “down” season.

Just a scant two weeks ago, I wrote in this space that Jamie Benn was flying under the radar. Sure, when compared to past seasons, his numbers are lower than we’re used to seeing. Moreover, his recent goal drought elicited some interesting takes as to what may be wrong with him.

When you take the team picture into account, such pearl clutching might seem founded. Take Tyler Seguin, for instance. His maturation into an elite two-way pivot is nothing short of astounding. Game after game, I find myself marveling at some of the plays he makes. His buy-in into Ken Hitchcock’s coaching system is all in.

Then you have a guy like Alexander Radulov. We all knew it was a great acquisition at the time, but the dude’s better than advertised. His uniquely Russian panache and passion rubs off on the rest of the team. There are stretches in games where he tries to win them by himself. If Seguin’s the Modano in this iteration of Hitchcock hockey, then Radulov is certainly the Brett Hull of the bunch.

So maybe that’s where Jamie Benn gets lost in the shuffle. It goes without saying that Seguin and Radulov are stealing the show this year. But the insinuation that there is something wrong with Benn is a straight fallacy. And it takes no more than a cursory glance at the statistics to prove the case.

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To wit, Benn ranks among the top three on the Stars in goals, assists, points, and plus-minus. Furthermore, his plus-18 is the second-best rating of his career, so he stands a very real chance of posting a personal best in that regard. In short, if this is an “off” year for him, then give me five more seasons of this. Anyone criticizing his output in relation to his contract isn’t taking his overall contributions into account. By any reasonable metric, the falloff just isn’t there. There’s nothing wrong here. Nothing to see. Move along.

All things considered, this is what made Saturday’s tilt versus the St. Louis Blues so satisfying. While this team shows a maddening tendency to get dominated for long stretches of games, they also possess the ability to just hang around. True to form, they forced overtime at the end of the weekend matinee. Fittingly, Benn potted the overtime winner. Even more apropos, he went all Bo Jackson in the ensuing celebration and broke his stick over his knee. Jamie’s relieved smile and the subsequent team mobbing spoke volumes. They all knew what that goal meant. Hopefully the dam breaks and goals start coming in bushels just in time for the push to the playoffs.

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The opportunity to post a very successful home stand continues tonight. The lowly Ottawa Senators are in town. If the Dallas Stars play to their paper, they have a fine chance to garner seven of the possible ten available points for this stretch of games on home ice. It would provide a great foundation for a team facing eleven of their final sixteen games on the road. Nothing comes easy for this bunch, but we’re learning an awful lot about them in the process.