The Dallas Stars look to extend their postseason tonight in St. Louis against the Blues. It quite literally comes down to this. The entire season has brought the team to this position to see if they can answer the bell at the Scottrade Center.
Game 5 was in Dallas on Saturday. The final score was 4-1, but the game was much closer than that score would indicate. It was just one of those cruel playoff games where the other team got stellar goaltending and all of the bounces.
About midway through the third period of Game 5, the Stars got a power play down 3-1. The color-guy said something about how much this team (Dallas) was missing Patrick Eaves and how valuable he is to the Stars' power play. But kind sir, what about Tyler Seguin? How much do the Stars miss a guy like that on the power play?
For those of you that do not have Twitter, Patrick Eaves will be in St. Louis tonight as a game time decision and Tyler Seguin will be watching from Dallas. And I have to admit, I am a little bit disappointed by the lack of gamesmanship by Dallas. Why didn't they just bring Seguin?
If Seguin can skate (he has been skating since last week), why not trot him out there for warm ups? Is he really that big of an injury concern that he would hurt himself skating slowly in large circles for 20 minutes?
I understand that the public has no idea what the injury is, and for the most part that destroys our ability to speculate. Which is a real shame. But here goes nothing.
What if Seguin played tonight?
I am not talking about 22 minutes of track-meet hockey chasing Jamie Benn around all night.
I am not even talking about taking a single stride at full-go.
What if the Stars iced the very first designated hitter in the NHL?
Tyler Seguin being on the ice makes teams uncomfortable on the penalty kill. Alexander Ovechkin has the same effect on the Washington Capitals' power play. The fact that Seguin or Ovi is standing at the bottom of the circle means that someone has to play a little bit wider than they normally would. It means the kill is stretched out, even if it is only mental gymnastics.
Travis Moen and Brett Ritchie are both averaging about 6:45 of playing time per game this post season. Let's say the Stars are on the power play 3 times tonight (this figure should be conservative). That means Seguin takes 3 shifts, presumably, for about 3 minutes of playing time.
That leaves the team with all of 3 minutes and 45 seconds of "extra" ice time to divide between Antoine Roussel, Mattias Janmark, and Valeri Nichushkin. All three take an extra shift or two on the fourth line. Problem solved.
Is anyone really going to make the argument that the 6:45 Moen or Ritchie on the fourth line gives the team a better chance to win than 3 minutes of Seguin standing on the left circle on the power play? That says nothing of the fact that some of Ritchie's minutes have come on the power play.
I can read the comments now. "It isn't worth it! Don't you remember what happened last time the team tried to play him? I love what Ritchie brings to the fourth line!" The problem is, those answers don't do anything for me.
What sort of injury could he possibly sustain standing at the bottom of the circle ready to fire a one timer? What if he got hurt doing that?
- If the Stars only score one goal tonight and continue to toil on the power play, their season will probably end this evening. This could be the last game of the season. If you have any cards, why hold them close to the vest now?
- What if the most catastrophic scenario occurs and Seguin aggravates whatever is bothering him? He has until October to heal.
Perhaps the answer is more simple than I am making it. Maybe Seguin is injured very seriously, and he is only listed as day-to-day because it's the NHL Playoffs. Maybe all of the "next round" timelines aren't going to happen either. Maybe he truly is out until next year regardless of how many games remain on the Stars' schedule this season.
If that is the case, fine. But the opportunity cost of being coy with injuries is answering questions about those injuries. And I am asking that question now. Why can't Tyler Seguin play tonight? Why can't Tyler Seguin play on Wednesday?
Dallas has unloaded the clip at Brian Elliott. It has been a close series, often times closer than the score indicated. The team is facing elimination definitely tonight and hopefully Wednesday. At some point this team is going to push their chips all-in.
To a lesser degree, the same premise applies to Patrick Eaves. If he is close enough to be a game time decision, he should play tonight. Eaves helps the team on the power play. Even if he can't play first line minutes, he should be on the ice tonight. Moen and Ritchie haven't exactly proven they are more valuable than 70% of Patrick Eaves much less 40% of Seguin on the power play only.
I realize there is a point on every recovery timeline where a player breaks over from being "injured" to "hurt". And to be fair, we have no idea where on that timeline Seguin or Eaves are.
The decision is a very important one, and has obviously already been made for tonight and Game 6. There are risks. But I would argue that the risk of Seguin only playing on the power play in a fairly stationary capacity is exceedingly low.
The reward however, could be enough to extend the season into the next round.
Get well soon, Seguin.