Jamie Benn was the very first player to greet Tyler Seguin when he arrived in Dallas in the summer of 2013, and the pair have been nigh inseparable in the 18 months since -- both on and off the ice. The two became fast friends and instantly became a hit on the ice together; Seguin's arrival allowed Benn to move back to the left wing and instantly formed one of the more dangerous top lines in the NHL.
Both finished in the top ten in scoring last season, setting career highs in goals and assists and led the Stars to the postseason for the first time in six years. The sky was the limit for the Stars and for both Seguin and Benn and both were poised to break out as legitimate NHL superstars.
This season, things haven't exactly played out as planned. Like the Dallas Stars team, the pair of Seguin and Benn have only had flashes of what we saw last season and the results have been just as inconsistent.
Lindy Ruff has used an incredible number of line combinations throughout the season to try and find the bit fit and chemistry for his team; the task was made more difficult by the injury to Valeri Nichushkin and Patrick Eaves, and the early struggles of Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky. All along, however, Benn and Seguin remained together and why not? Seguin leads the NHL in goals and is third overall in scoring in the NHL and the two were incredible together last season.
Except that Benn is now just 29th in the NHL in scoring and is riding a career-low shooting percentage, while Seguin has just one goal in his past ten games. The Dallas Stars have been winning the past month or so -- but Seguin and Benn aren't scoring like we're used to seeing.
So now, with the big and bad Winnipeg Jets in town, there's a chance that Lindy Ruff splits up the Dynamic Duo.
Seguin and Benn were running on separate lines on Wednesday at practice, with Ruff stating he's looking to possibly split them up, but the team did not run lines during morning skate. As such, we can only speculate as to what we'll see when the puck drops tonight.
Based on the lines in practice, we could have this:
Benn - Eakin - Ritchie
Roussel - Seguin - Garbutt
Cole - Spezza - Hemsky
Horcoff - Fiddler - Moen/Sceviour
Which would certainly be interesting. How would the deployments and matchups work? Which lines get the majority of the defensive zone starts and tough competition, usually reserved for the Pitbulls?
Splitting up Benn and Seguin is an idea that certainly seems to be a good idea -- mostly for Jamie Benn. The Stars captain has clearly not been himself throughout this season, likely related to a combination of a nagging injury* or even just too much deference to the league-leading scorer in Seguin.
*Lindy Ruff stated on Wednesday that Benn had a "nagging" type of injury all season, but Benn on Thursday denied having any issues.
Getting Jamie Benn onto his "own" line would give him the chance to once again take over a game, the way he's done so many times in the past, and perhaps provide a bit of a spark to his game. The change could also be a good way to get the monkey off Seguin's back, who has over 40 shots on goal the past ten games with just that one actual goal to show for it.
Splitting up Benn and Seguin? It can't hurt.
In other news, Anders Lindback was first off the ice during morning skate and looks to be the starter tonight against the Jets. It's a big, big test for the backup netminder against a tough divisional opponent and it's an indication of how Ruff might be feeling about his starting netminder right now.