Isn't it nice to see a plan come together?
When the Dallas Stars acquired Tyler Seguin in July I, like most fans, wrote "Benn + Seguin" on the nearest scrap of paper and then drew a red heart around the outside of it. (Right next to the scratched-out one that said "Benn + Jagr"...) It was the easiest plan in the world.
Tyler Seguin was going to be the center and Jamie Benn was going to score all the goals. Boom. Or, you know, Benn will get five assists and Seguin will score four times. Whatever. The Calgary Flames were the unwitting and unwilling witnesses to that proposition last night as the duo amassed 11 points en route to the 7-3 win.
That's the beauty of it- They can both carry the puck. They can both distribute. They can both finish. It's as dangerous of a look as you'll find in the NHL right now outside of Sidney Crosby and well, whoever he's out there with.
"We're living in the same building back home, so we're spending a lot of time together, and that's translating to chemistry on the ice," Benn said once again after this one.
They're excelling, and now they're doing it with an apprentice riding shotgun in the form of one Mr. Valeri Nichushkin, who earned two assists of his own last night. (Alex Chiasson is probably waiting for his turn on that Merry-Go-Round.)
19 games is a small sample size to be sure, but does any of this look like it cannot last? Since the glory days of the Modanos, Hulls and Nieuwendyks of the world, when has Dallas had such a consistent offensive threat?
Brad Richards with Loui Eriksson and James Neal was a good one. Quite good. Particularly in October, but maybe not for the duration of their 82-game hauls. Benn and Eriksson had their moments, but not for sustained periods like this, and Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro had some nice nights, lest we forget, but the explosiveness wasn't there.
This young combination of Benn and Seguin looks like it could endure, not only the season, but the years to come.
"They've had a very good start for us and they've been leading our team offensively," Ruff said after the game. "Like most teams, you don't often find one guy up in the standings, it's usually two guys that work well together. Those two guys have had chemistry ever since camp."
Good point, coach. Let's see how these line-mates stack up against other duos in the league:
That's a salty list, but it's not an indication of much. You can tell because there are Eastern Conference teams on it. Chicago, Los Angeles and San Jose aren't here, though close, and it's because they enjoy balance. The Sharks have four of the NHL's top-30 scorers. The Blackhawks have four in the top-50. The Kings...well, the Kings beat you in other ways that are more valuable come playoff time than gaudy offensive totals..
The Stars' next name on the list is Alex Chiasson at 111th in the league (11 points) and Peverley and Eakin tied for 155th (9 points).
There in lies the single biggest threat to the law-firm of Benn, Seguin and Nichushkin: Imbalance. If, against better competition, (say Sunday at Vancouver, for instance) they cannot get help from the second and third lines it will force Ruff's hand as it already did once this year, and they'll have to separate to try to get Alex Chiasson going elsewhere.
Top-heavy works some nights, as we saw, but will it get you where you want to go in what looks like the most difficult playoff race in the history of the league? Maybe not.
In the mean time it's nice (no, fantastic) to know the Stars are swinging a big stick like Benn and Seguin against these lesser teams. Like all those seasons of watching Rick Nash come to town with the Blue Jackets and knowing "he's going to get free for at least one tonight..." it puts dread into the hearts of the opponents. The trick is to add around them, then make the opposition pick their poison.
More from Defending Big D:
- Dallas Stars' Kari Lehtonen Making Case To Be Considered Among NHL's Elite Goaltenders
- Dallas Stars Daily Links: Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin Put On a Scoring Clinic against the Calgary Flames
- Dallas Stars Use Explosive Second to Best Calgary Flames 7-3
- Dallas Stars' CHL Affiliate Allen Americans Hosting Alzheimer's Night Friday Nov 22nd
- 2013-2014 Dallas Stars Roster Analysis: Rich Peverley, Kari Lehtonen Shining in Week 6