There is no doubt that the Stars’ season improved in 2015. The team steamrolled Arizona 6-0 at home on New Year’s Eve, and demolished Minnesota 7-1 before Devan Dubnyk’s metamorphic trade. In the New Year, they also shutout their most staunch opponents, Chicago and Anaheim. Despite missing the playoffs, the Stars even topped their previous season’s point standing at 92, going 41-31-10.
With team improvement, Jamie Benn also had a career year, winning the Art Ross Trophy as the highest overall point scorer in the NHL. Here are 10 stunning moments that, despite Dallas’ early-season struggles, prove that the Stars’ captain is truly an elite NHL player.
1. Benn Feeds Patrick Eaves for Power Play Goal
Jamie Benn’s power play prowess is no joke. Sure, Dallas ended the regular season with 19 percent power play success (12th in the NHL), but poor stats are not indicative of Benn’s hockey sense. Centering the puck twice, Benn and Eaves infiltrate the Avalanche defense with an overload play. Using Jason Spezza on the half boards, Benn and Eaves set up a tic-tac-toe pattern to put the puck in on Varlamov’s weak side.
2. Stars Win First Shootout of Season
Both the Stars and Devils are known for continual overtime and shootout losses. The Devils’ shortcoming prevailed as Jamie Benn goes wide to put the Stars up 3-2 in this shootout win.
3. Fiddler Feeds Benn a Short-Handed Goal
Steaming wide of the opposing net, Vernon Fiddler finds a breakout on the penalty kill as Jamie Benn crashes the low slot. In a home shutout that left Ales Hemsky, Tyler Seguin, and Patrick Eaves injured, a short-handed goal is some solace.
4. Benn Scores Power Play Goal in Dying Seconds of Shutout
The Stars shutout some of the best teams in the NHL in 2014-15, and the reigning Stanley Cup champions were no exception. John Klingberg proved a force in his rookie season, backing Benn to a power play goal with fewer than two seconds left on the clock. This goal was just the cherry on top of a rare, and equally glorious, home win.
5. Eakin and Benn Set Up a ‘Give and Goal’
As Jamie Benn streaks through the neutral zone, Eakin spins in order to backhand the puck to center. Jamie accepts the pass, and Eakin crashes the net for a successful 2-on-1 opportunity against Norris Trophy-winning defenseman, Duncan Keith. If there was a trophy for the sweetest shorty of the season, this play would be a contender.
6. Jamie Benn Laser Beats Price Following Faceoff
Even the world’s greatest goaltenders are blinded by Benn’s laser shot. After Jason Spezza wins the faceoff, Vezina candidate, Carey Price, has no time to react as Benn blasts the puck in on his glove side.
7. Benn Scores Tying Goal in Win against Penguins
With three minutes left in Pittsburgh, Stars fans don’t expect a comeback. However, Jamie Benn set the Stars up for a stunning late-period win in the dying seconds. Seven seconds after scoring the tying goal, Sidney Crosby trips up Benn, sending the Penguins’ captain and top scorer on a trip to the box. On that power play, Tyler Seguin scores short-side on Marc-Andre Fleury, winning the game with just under three seconds left in the final frame.
8. Benn Shoves Strome to Feed Eakin OT Winner
In overtime, the Islanders got too comfy in the opposing end. As Strome takes his time with the puck, Benn pushes him down at the blue line to force a turnover. John Klingberg swoops in to pick up the puck, chipping it ahead as Benn and Eakin generate a 2-on-1. Making a last-second pass to Eakin, Benn sets him up to score on the back door.
9. First Career Hat Trick
It’s hard to believe that Olympic gold medalist, Jamie Benn, didn’t post his first hat trick until 2015. Here, Benn opens scoring in an eventual 4-1 win that runs Blues goaltender, Brian Elliott, off the ice.
10. Cody Eakin Scores Benn the Art Ross Assist
If there’s one man who you should take to a carnival, it’s Cody Eakin. As we learned from Jamie Benn’s Art Ross win, Eakin doesn’t stop playing until he wins that giant teddy bear. In a game that saw Jamie Benn’s second career hat trick, Benn’s teammates worked hard to win their captain the Art Ross Trophy. The teamwork displayed in this game is a hallmark that the Stars continually display during their rebuild.
Whether they shut out the Blues to make the playoffs in 2014, or win their captain the scoring title one year later, the Stars pull together to complete their goals as a team. Regardless of whether or not NHL fans “should have drafted Jamie Benn,” they can agree that the past two seasons played under Benn, Lindy Ruff, and Jim Nill’s leadership were exhilarating roller coaster rides. Whether they’ve purchased rides to victory, or impending doom, fans never know. The destination is not the objective for the time being, the journey is instead.
Currently, the Stars are a young team. The defensive core, particularly, consists of a rotating cast of rookies who thrive more on youthful exuberance than experience. As the years wear on, a team that pulls together to win their captain a scoring title in the dying seconds of the regular season is certainly the type of team who will do the same to win each other a Stanley Cup. As Jamie Benn grows, so do the Dallas Stars.