Stars’ News & Rumors: Jamie Benn & a Narrow Playoff Race

In this edition of Dallas Stars News & Rumors, Jamie Benn reaches a big milestone and the Stars continue to battle in a tight Western Conference playoff race. 

Jamie Benn Reaches 439 & Some History  

The Stars captain is not one for milestones or personal goals. He is notoriously quiet around the media and is one of the most selfless players in the entire league. However, with his third-period assist on Tyler Seguin’s goal on Sunday, Jamie Benn accomplished a pretty impressive feat and cemented his name even deeper into the Stars franchise history books. His assist brought him to 439 in his career and boosted him above Sergei Zubov on the all-time list in that category. Now, Benn only trails Mike Modano and Neal Broten as he sits third among a company of great players. 

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Oddly enough, Monday was also a special day in the history of Jamie Benn. On this day in 2015, Benn overcame the odds, recording four points in the Stars’ final game of the season to capture his first and only Art Ross Trophy for the most points of any player in the NHL (87). The game was a magical one as the team pushed to secure the trophy for their captain and a late assist off his shinpads sealed the deal in a Stars victory and a huge moment for the franchise. 

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Although the team was well out of a playoff spot, you can see the emotion and excitement of the players and the fans, showing just how much Benn means to the organization. For a guy who takes so much on his shoulders and serves as a true captain, it was a nice moment that will not be forgotten, except maybe by Benn himself. 

Stars Have No Room to Breathe 

If it was not obvious weeks or months ago, it is clear now that the Stars’ playoff fate will come down to the final week of the season. Despite going on a fairly successful run, followed by a bit of a struggle, Dallas continues to sit right on the playoff bubble, bouncing in and out of the final spot like a child on a pogo stick. 

“The vibe in the locker room, the mentality we have [is that] we’re never out of it,” said Scott Wedgewood. “Regardless of shot counts or things like that, I’ve just always found that we find a way to get something generated. Whether it takes 60 minutes or not, they’re still looking and they’re not going to give up. It’s a well-fueled team and we’re obviously all fighting for something as a group, and I’m excited to obviously keep going here and see what we can do.”

That is the mentality and the real truth about the Stars’ position in the standings as well as their overall season. They work to stay in the fight, they remain in games, they find ways to get wins and points, and they inch their way towards the finish line. While it can be frustrating for fans, it also could be the key to winning if they do reach the final 16 at the end of the regular season. 

Scott Wedgewood Dallas Stars-Stars' News & Rumors: Jamie Benn & a Narrow Playoff Race
Scott Wedgewood, Dallas Stars (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)

A perfect example of how fine this line is came in back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday. Against New Jersey, Dallas controlled much of the game through 40 minutes but could not extend their lead, eventually allowing three third-period goals and losing in regulation. On Sunday, they played a back-and-forth type of game but found a way to convert on their chances and win a wild 6-4 contest. It can go either way, but this team seems to be finding the path to finish on top more often than not. 

“After last [Saturday] night, the game was very disappointing, I was very proud of the guys the way they responded,” Rick Bowness said. “We came out ready to go. It was a really good effort by everybody. We had to play four lines for as much of the game as we could because of the schedule. But everyone is going through it right now around the league, playing four in six nights. There are going to be nights where you are off but you’ve got to recover quickly, you can’t lose two in a row. So that’s a great effort tonight.”

Related: 3 Takeaways From Stars 6-4 Win Over the Chicago Blackhawks

With the victory on Sunday, Dallas holds a one-point cushion over the Vegas Golden Knights for the last playoff spot in the West. They also trail the Nashville Predators by just a single point for the top wild card with only 10 games remaining on the schedule. While the first-round opponent does seem to matter to Dallas, winning a large percentage of their final 10 games and heading into the postseason with some confidence certainly does. 

“If you look at the three teams, one of them is going to miss,” Bowness said of the fact nine teams are basically battling for eight playoff spots. “One of them is going to have a hell of a year and miss as it sits today. That could change in four games because it’s so tight. As it stands right now there are three of us fighting for two spots. This could go right down to the final weekend and it’s probably going to do that.”

As I have said since very early on in the season, buckle up Stars fans. 

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