Every hero needs a sidekick. Especially in times of darkness.
For the Dallas Stars, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin serve as the heroes. They carry the team to its highest peak and are counted on to lead it out of its lowest valley. It seems like forever ago that they were as hot as can be and the talk of the town, but they’ve slowed of late. Their frustration is evident with every broken pass or missed shot. Luckily, they don’t just have one sidekick, they have a whole team of sidekicks.
Benn and Seguin Lead the Charge
Benn and Seguin helped carry the team offensively for a large part of the season so far. When they are hot, so are the Stars. When they struggle, the team stumbles. They sit atop the team’s scoring chart with nearly double the amount points as the next-closest players Erik Cole, Alex Chiasson and Cody Eakin, who each have 24 points. What the numbers don’t show, is just critical and helpful the supplemental scoring has been, especially of late.
During Dallas’ hottest stretch of the season, Benn and Seguin tallied 13 points in seven games as the team surged with a 5-0-2 to end the 2013 calendar year. It is no coincidence that the Stars have stumbled to a 2-8-1 record over the past 11 games, in which the duo has combined for 12 points.
Secondary Scoring Steps up
The team’s scoring slump has forced the grinders and role players to step up and try to pick up the slack. Cole scored four goals despite playing on the third line for most of the slump. The second line of Eakin, Ryan Garbutt and Antoine Roussel combined for six goals and nine assists over the past 11 games. That is 15 points in 11 games for a line which consists of two players who usually skate in the bottom six. It’s also important to note that Roussel and Garbutt don’t spend any time on the power play, which has been on the rise of late. They have stepped up and taken the lead in secondary scoring while also providing heavy forechecking, responsible backchecking and speedy grit.
Veterans Rich Peverley, Ray Whitney and Vernon Fiddler added valuable points of late while skating in the bottom six. Fiddler only scored a goal and added two assists over the past 11 games, but his goal was a game-winner against Minnesota and his assists helped give the Stars a lead in one game and tied up another. Whitney added two goals and three assists during the slump. Peverley continues to chip with strong defensive play and assists. He chipped in six assists over 11 games, bringing his season total to 18, trailing only Benn and Seguin on the team.
The @DallasStars now with 5 PPG in the last 5 games. Erik Cole nothing short of deadly around the net for the past month
— Bruce LeVine (@BruceLeVine22) January 22, 2014
Whitney, Peverley and Cole have all taken advantage of the Stars’ rising power play and pitched in with several of their points on the man-advantage. The Stars have scored power play goals in five consecutive games and eight total goals with the man-advantage over the past 11 games. They only converted on eight of their 38 opportunities in that span, but that 21 percent conversion rate is much better than the low rate that had them 29th in the league with the man advantage a month ago.
Defense Pitching in
Although Alex Goligoski has struggled recently in his own zone, he contributed six assists over the past 11 games. Dallas’ defense is not the most offensive-minded unit in the league, but over the past 11 games, the other five mainstays besides Goligoski have chipped in four goals and seven assists.
The Stars are finding their way out of the historic slump that put a damper on their playoff hopes, but there are plenty of games left to make up ground and jump back into the heated race. Though not much has gone their way of late, the Stars can take solace in knowing that even when their best players are in a slump, they have a roster full of teammates who can jump in and help pick up some of the slack. They will need it all to come together as they head down the final stretch of the season.