Injury Clouds Playoff Expectations for Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
The playoffs are coming. With a handful of games left the Stars cling to the Western Conference's top spot. More surprising, they're doing so without All-World center Tyler Seguin. All reports have him back by the time the playoffs begin, but will he be all the way back? Even if he is, what
Let's forget about the injury for a moment. Yeah, I know, it's a big deal, the proverbial elephant in the room, but humor me. Let's take the doctors at exactly their word when they say 3-4 weeks and back on the ice. Let's maybe even assume Segs wraps up rehab a day or so early, in time to make the puck drop for Game 1. That's going to have a transformative effect on the Stars' chances, right? Getting The Man back has to, unless it doesn't. For all of his regular season dominance, Seguin still faces questions about how he'll perform once the post-season rolls around, but are they fair?
To start, Tyler Seguin managed 3 points (1 G / 2 A) in his previous six game post-season foray with the Stars. Add that to his old Boston totals and the Stars' young sniper can boast a career line of 48 GP / 7 G / 14 A / 21 Pts. Healthy production, sure, but it hardly reflects the way his profile has grown since arriving in Big D. It is only natural for nervous Stars fans to wonder what they should expect out of Seguin.
Let's get one thing out of the way. This version of Tyler Seguin has never actually been in the post-season. With Boston, he was a promising young player surrounded by a strong, veteran team. He had the pedigree and expectations of a #1 pick, but was nestled snugly down the offensive depth chart from the likes of Patrice Bergeron and David Krecji. With the Stars, he played a six game cameo with a plucky underdog.
That's both a positive and a negative. It's good in the sense that we cannot necessarily draw conclusions from his past. The Boston Bruins did not put Seguin in a position to carry the mail, so to speak. The downside is that fans of the current version have very little in the way of hard evidence. It is natural to wonder how his game will translate as the lead offensive dog on the league's highest scoring team.
So what are the data points?
Start with the biggest picture you can find. Tyler Seguin currently ranks sixth in the league in points (73), eight in the league in goals (33), and fourth in the league in shots (278). Look back to last season and those rankings are seventh, fifth, and fifth. Seguin isn't a surprise, and he certainly isn't a flash in the pan. Stars fans should take comfort in the fact that the rest of the league had an entire offseason to stifle the Seguin-led attack and has generally failed to do so.
If we look more specifically at how he's done against likely playoff foes, the news remains mostly cheerful. The Los Angeles Kings have held him off the scoresheet (0 Pts / 2 GP), but they're unique in that regards. Seguin has produced against the Blackhawks (4 Pts / 5 GP), Blues (3 Pts / 5 GP), Sharks (4 Pts / 2 GP), Predators (3 Pts / 3 GP), and Ducks (1 Pt / 2 GP). All of that plus a 3 Pts / 2 GP line against the Capitals should ease fears of a playoff drought.
The Stars are also a much deeper offensive team this time around, which should insulate Seguin somewhat from unfavorable line matchups. Ten Stars are currently in double digits for goal-scoring (Jamie Benn, Seguin, Jason Spezza, John Klingberg, Patrick Sharp, Ales Hemsky, Cody Eakin, Mattias Janmark, Antoine Roussel, and Vernon Fiddler). Two more (Valeri Nichushkin and Colton Sceviour) need a single tally to join the list. Much like the formula Chicago employs with Patrick Kane, the Stars will be able to Ruffle Seguin around to escape unwanted attention.
Does any of this guarantee a Seguin explosion come playoff time? No, but if being the focal point of the league's best offense hasn't slowed him down so far, it's unlikely to start anytime soon.
Now, the hard part, Tyler Seguin is currently hurt. In order to reach the point where he does or does not overcome playoff expectations, he'll have to shake of a 15% tear to his achilles tendon. It's impossible to ignore, especially for such an explosive scorer. Yes, it's a relatively small tear, but Seguin will need to go from out of the lineup to focal point with almost no time to prep. That's a tall order.
It will be a fascinating test for a supremely talented young player. Can the young star, already discarded by one team, overcome injury to lead his new squad to glory? That's a storyline, right?