These are the times in a season when a team’s captain shows his true colors, and the Dallas Stars could not be happier with what Jamie Benn has done for the team recently.
During the Stars’ four-game losing streak that saw them slip out of a playoff position in the Western Conference, Benn was easily their best player. He was the team’s most consistent player, and not just offensively.
Benn won an average of 57 percent of the faceoffs he took over the past five games. He averaged nearly 20 minutes of ice time and finished a plus two despite the Stars being outscored 21-11 in that span. He even saw more time on the penalty kill. Instead of being sent out to kill the final 30 seconds or less of a penalty, Benn was sent out as part of the second or third PK unit several times. His 14 penalty minutes are not necessarily a good thing, but the fact that they all came in one game is positive. Other than that one game, he led by example by playing a tough, responsible game in all three zones.
Last but not least was his production. He led the way by registering at least a point in each of the past five games. He managed 21 shots on goal and scored four of Dallas’ 11 goals in that span. Four goals and an assist in five games, four of which were losses, shows he did not shy away from putting the team on his back in an attempt to will them out of their slump.
Naming Benn captain of the Stars last summer was a risky but necessary move for a team forging a new identity as it heads to a promising future. The past five games have shown that he is more than capable of shouldering the responsibilities of being captain.
Now that Benn has led his team out of their slump, his next step is to lead them to a place they have not been for the past five seasons — the playoffs.