The Dallas Stars have been a one-line team for much of the 2021-22 season. The top trio of Roope Hintz, Joe Pavelski, and Jason Robertson have accounted for nearly 60% of the team’s offense throughout the first four months. While it is a blessing to have such a dynamic line, it is necessary to have depth scoring in order to win on a consistent basis. With the number of strong defensive forwards, matchups on the road, and high number of games during a season, teams need to find a way to receive scoring from more than just the top line. For Dallas, that is where Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin come in.
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Throughout the season, Benn and Seguin have been shuffled up and down the lineup in search of the right chemistry and production. Now, they have finally been reunited on the second line and are the key to the team finding consistent success.
Benn & Seguin Are Still Young Superstars
Benn (32) and Seguin (29) should still be in their prime. Both players have had excellent NHL careers, led the team in points, won awards, and found ways to be elite. However, over the past few seasons, their production has dropped significantly. Yes, both players have had multiple surgeries. Yes, the Stars have transitioned into a much more defensive structure. And yes, the league is getting younger every year. However, elite players have found ways to continue to be elite well into their 30’s, so Benn and Seguin need to find a way to do the same.
“I haven’t seen enough (from the top players),” Rick Bowness said. “We need them to produce offense. Our top guys haven’t found their game on a consistent basis. There were some good shifts, but there were too many shifts where they’re not involved in the game enough, they’re not making a difference in the outcome of the game. There are guys who haven’t found their `A’ game yet, and that applies to that group, and we need them to quickly find it.”
Look at Joe Pavelski. He is 37 years old, has played over 1,100 games, finds a way to play nearly 82 games every year, and currently leads the Stars in every offensive category after the first five-point night of his career earlier this week. While he is an extreme example, the fact still remains. Elite players should be elite players for a long time.
Let’s not forget that Benn winning the Art Ross Trophy, for the most points during the regular season, was just a few years ago. Seguin followed that up with 80 points in 82 games in 2018-19. Both players still possess the skill, so what is the issue? Is it confidence? Are there deeper health issues that we are not aware of? Does the structure really hinder their offensive talent? These questions remain unanswered.
Related: Stars Need More From Top Players
While the Stars are one of the best defensive teams in the league, they do offer plenty of chances to score goals. Yet, each time we see a glimpse of the old Benn & Seguin, it seems to disappear just as quickly.
The Team Goes Where Benn & Seguin Take Them
It is no secret that both Benn and Seguin are leaders on this team. Benn has been the captain since 2013, while Seguin has worn an “A” on his sweater since coming over from the Boston Bruins. When these two players are skating well, playing aggressively, and having fun on the ice, the rest of the team follows. Last season, as soon as Benn began to skate well at center, his team began winning games. In fact, if you look at the numbers over the past few seasons, just about every successful stretch for the Stars, will also see solid numbers from the captain.
When it comes to Seguin, there really is no excuse at this point. He has had four months of games to progress after surgery, has not turned 30 yet, and possesses all of the skill needed to be among the league leaders in offensive production. During the season, it has been clear that he is frustrated and expects more from himself as well.
“Sometimes it gets frustrating because I can’t play the same kind of game I’ve played in the past,” Seguin said. “I’m still trying to find the balance between muck and grinder and finding that more fluid style to my game that I’ve had.
New Line With Seguin, Benn, & Gurianov
Before Denis Gurianov was placed on the COVID protocol list this week, he had been slotted in on the second line with Benn and Seguin. Almost instantly, that line caught fire. Over the three games they skated together, the trio accounted for 12 points, had many high-danger scoring chances, and were arguably the best line in the game each night. Unfortunately, COVID put that chemistry on hold for now but perhaps this line combination will be exactly what is needed to break Seguin, Benn, and even Gurianov out of their funk.
“Jamie kind of finds an extra step when he plays center,” Seguin said. “Jamie and I have probably had 30 linemates in our time in Dallas, but Gury is a player that has such a high ceiling. If we can get us three clicking, I think we can be a dominant line for the rest of the year.”
For the Stars, they certainly hope that this is a dominant line for the rest of the year. With the amount of weight the top line holds on its shoulders, a second scoring line will be vital to the team’s success going forward. When it comes down to it, Benn and Seguin are the key. They hold the power of more offensive production and have the full support of a team that will follow them where they go.
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Sam Nestler is a credentialed Dallas Stars contributor for the ‘The Hockey Writers’. Growing up in New Jersey, Sam has been playing hockey since he was 7 years old. Developing a love for writing in college, Sam uses his hockey knowledge to create analyses and articles on every aspect of the game. Sam also hosts his own podcast on Spotify, the “Slapshot Sammy’ podcast, breaking down action across the Stars, the NHL, and college hockey. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!