Jordie Benn takes a beating from Stars fans. Some of it he brings on himself with poor decisions from time to time. Some of it...I really couldn't tell you. Irrational hatred of a man sharing the government id "J. Benn" with the better Benn? Jealousy over the high level of compete his beard game brings to the rink? Misconceptions based on critical turnovers that stick out which overshadow the full body of play? It could be anything.
In an effort to show some of the positive to offset some of the negative from time to time it's nice to look at good things that are happening. One positive that is taking place is that the Stars appear to have found a very high quality pairing in Benn and Jason Demers.
My main focus was to look a bit closer into the improvements that seem to have taken place with Jordie to see if they are really happening. What we can see pretty clearly is that his game is trending upwards. We are currently in the best stretch of Jordie's season. The chart below is his five game moving average Corsi For/60 and Corsi Against/60 for this season in close game situations as pulled from War On Ice. The two boxed in areas are his two best stretches of the season.
The idea is that we want that dashed line to be above the solid line. The main difference between his two top stretches is the level of offense being generated. In the first good stretch offensive production went down as the defense got less shaky. This stretch is more impressive because as the defense is trending in the right direction the Stars are generating elite level offensive production with him on the ice.
Part of that is undoubtedly his 62% offensive zone start percentage over the past eight games in those close situations, but if production is happening it's unfair to fault him for situations the coaching staff want to put him in. Another key factor is playing with Demers.
It's easy to forget that Benn spent a lot of time early in the season switching between numerous partners. At even strength in all situations he played 67 minutes with Trevor Daley and almost 200 minutes with Brenden Dillon. On the season he now has over 400 minutes with Demers. He and Dillon had a 53.4% Corsi For, albeit with some turnover issues. With Demers that number is up to 57%. With Daley, mostly early in the season, that number is 42.9%, Things are quite a bit different for Jordie with Demers.
It's closing in on two months since the last time I looked at Jordie, and he continues to get better. This season is quickly turning into a dumpster fire, but it happening so early is going to give the Stars time to get a good head start on figuring things out for 2016. They have a good thing going here with this pair. We all know how well John Klingberg has played (and by extension how well Alex Goligoski has played beside him). Patrik Nemeth will be back soon. Things aren't as grim as they seem as the defense continues to fall into place.