Jamie Benn has been the Dallas Stars’ captain since 2013. He has been among the leaders in scoring nearly every season and is vitally important to this franchise in so many other ways. Over the past two seasons, he has taken on a more defensive role than he is accustomed to. To any casual viewers, it may seem that he is fading. That could not be further from the truth.
Benn leads this team on and off the ice as well as any other captain in the league. Even when he is not scoring points, he is helping his team with his defensive play, puck battles, emotional support, and physicality.
Jamie Benn finding His stride with the Dallas Stars at the right time
"“He’s been playing his heart out,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said Thursday night. “It all starts, to me, with Jamie. He drives the bus here. When he’s playing as hard as he has, then everyone else has to feed off of that.”"
With all of that being said, the Stars needed more production out of him this season without Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov. He struggled early to rack up any points but has come on as of late, just in time for the thick of the playoff race.
Before the game against Nashville on April 1st, Benn had only six goals on the season. He had not scored on the power play and was not an offensive threat in many of the Stars’ games. That night, Benn was the best player on the ice. He scored his first power-play goal which also ended an eight-game goal-scoring drought. He was physical, dominant on the boards, and found chemistry with new linemate, Denis Gurianov.
Gurianov had also been struggling mightily this season after leading the team in scoring in 2019-2020. Once he was paired up with Benn, their confidence was obviously growing. Not only were both players scoring but they were showing more poise with the puck and taking more chances rather than deferring to other options.
In the 10 games since, Benn has three goals and five assists while Gurianov has three goals and five points in the last three games.
You wouldn’t always know it from his quiet and cliche interviews but Jamie Benn loves to win and wants to be a difference-maker for his team every night.
"“Winning is fun,” captain Jamie Benn said. “It takes a lot of hard work and it takes the 20 guys that are in the lineup that night. We just have to find a way to keep going here. A lot of important hockey coming up and we have to find ways to win these games.”"
The success for Benn has been amplified since Rick Bowness moved him to center last week. He has gone 72% on faceoffs including two games over 85% against Columbus. He has the puck more and carries more responsibility as a center which has allowed him to have a bigger impact on the game.
When asked about how the team has been able to handle all of these postponed games, injuries, and adversities, both General Manager Jim Nill and Head Coach Rick Bowness responded the same way.
"“Jamie Benn,” NHL on NBC."
His most noticeable play came in the second game against Columbus on Saturday night. Benn pushed a Blue Jackets player off a loose puck along the boards in his own end, chipped it perfectly off the boards to spring a 2-on-1 the other way for his linemates.
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Gurianov showed patience as he held up and found Benn as the late trailer down the slot. Benn took a second before firing a pass right back to Gurianov who had a wide-open net to shoot his well-known one-timer into. The captain showed all of his traits of grit, vision, skill, and speed in one play and it was enjoyable to watch.
The emergence of both Benn and Gurianov came just in time as the Stars were running out of time to start making up ground in the Central Division playoff race. Nashville had been winning and Dallas knew they needed to go on a run to keep up. Now, they are 5-0-2 in their last seven games and trail Nashville by only three points with three games in hand for the final playoff spot.
If both players can continue playing well, this team has a real shot at making the postseason as they control their own destiny. Oh, and by the way, Tyler Seguin is set to return next week so this could get very interesting.
- Published on 04/21/2021 at 12:21 PM
- Last updated at 04/21/2021 at 12:21 PM