Breaking Down the Dallas Stars Core: What Can Raw Numbers Tell Us About Jamie Benn?
The heart and soul of the Dallas Stars core of talented young players, what trends can we pick out in Jamie Benn's career points-per-game patters?
Despite missing the playoffs this season, the Dallas Stars still have a young, dangerous core of players that they plan to build around for a push in the next few seasons. Some of these pieces were drafted and developed by the Stars while others were brought on through trade or free agency.
In an effort to understand exactly what the Stars might be expecting out of those players, I decided to do an in-depth dive into hockeyreference.com to break down individual tendencies, particularly focusing on their time in Dallas. Things like home/road splits, favorite opponents and if the player gains momentum or slows as the season goes on.
To start this project, it only made sense to start with the biggest, shiniest home-grown piece of the core, Jamie Benn. Mr. Art Ross Trophy has six seasons of data under his belt to analyze, which lends itself to some potentially meaningful patterns as well.
For his career, Benn has 359 points in 426 games (0.843 points per game) with 320 penalty minutes and a career 12.5 shooting percentage. His home and road splits are fairly consistent - he averages 0.877 points per game at the American Airlines Center and 0.810 on the road, which can be explained by things such as line-matching and power play splits.
And as he goes, so goes the team around him. Benn is well over a point per game in Stars wins while about 0.500 points per game in losses. Again, there's a lot going on in those numbers - shutout losses obviously have no points available for anyone, and in blowout wins, its sometimes easier to stack up four, five or even six points. But the greater than half-point swing is something to note.
The more notable numbers, at least to me, involve how he generally picks up his performance throughout the season.
The first way to look at this is by month:
A slightly simpler way is to break it out before and after the All-Star break. Benn averages 1.05 points per game after the break and 0.791 before it.
This matches the eye test most fans have on Benn, but it was heavily influenced by the tear he went on this season, where he averaged 0.870 points per game before the break and 1.31 after it as the Stars tried but failed to get back into the playoff picture. And it should also be noted that two of his seasons had no All-Star break because of the Olympics or lockout - all the points he scored in those seasons are counted as pre-break points by hockeyreference.com.
If you look at just the month-by-month performance in 2013-14, however, the trend shows up again to a smaller extent. Benn averaged 0.931 points per game October-February but 1.14 in March and April.
While one could explain this season's swing as Benn learning to play through his hip pain, the fact that it shows up in 2013-14 makes it noteworthy, and the obvious trend in the month-by-month totals supports the fact that Benn simply gets better as the season goes on, particularly in the goal-scoring department.
He also has some favorite opponents, which can almost be broken down by geographical region:
Where Mike Modano used to terrorize the state of California, Benn has instead chosen the nation of Canada as his target. He averages 1.03 points per game against the seven franchises north of the border, a number brought down by his slight struggles with the Senators.
Benn isn't too shabby against California either, and he practically drools when they head out to Florida. The real standout here, though, are the Rangers, the only team Benn has yet to register a point against (in fact, he has at least four against every other team).
So if the Stars could design a schedule for maximum Benn success, it would start in January or later and spend most of the time on the coasts or in Canada. That shouldn't be too much to ask, right?