Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin leads the league in combined shots off the crossbar and post. He’s taken public abuse from his team’s CEO. And he wasn’t selected to the NHL All-Star Game for the first time in five seasons.
All that seems to be fueling him toward a midseason resurgence. After a challenging start to the season, Seguin is thriving and the Stars are looking to make a push in the Central Division.
“(I want to) keep going,” Seguin said after scoring three points in a 3-1 win over the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. “Not think about it. Keep playing with that confidence and that fire.”
Seguin wasn’t awful at the beginning of the season, but it certainly wasn’t the start the Stars were hoping for after giving him an eight-year, $78.8 million contract extension in September. The 26-year-old had 32 points in 38 games when team CEO Jim Lites decided to take action Dec. 28.
Lites used expletives to describe Seguin’s and captain Jamie Benn’s play and said owner Tom Gaglardi also was frustrated. Lites requested the interviews and went out of his way to criticize two of his best players in public.
The next day Seguin said he had “no response,” while Benn said of Lites: “I don’t play for him.” But coach Jim Montgomery hoped both players would improve in the aftermath of the public shaming.
“Top players, when they face adversity like this, usually have a really good response,” Montgomery said Dec. 29. “That’s what I expect from them.”
That’s just what Seguin has delivered, though his six posts and five crossbars hit show he might have been due for a little puck luck anyway. But in the first seven games since Lites’ comments, he’s scored 11 points and the Stars are 4-2-1.
He’s looked like the Seguin the Stars need if they’re going to make the playoffs for the first time in three seasons, even if Benn is still lagging behind. Benn scored three points in his first six games since being roasted and missed a game Jan. 4 with an upper-body injury.
“I knew things were going to start going in,” Seguin said Tuesday. “I just didn’t know when. I just wanted to keep shooting, and right now they’re going in.”
The saga of Sergei Bobrovsky
It’s been an interesting week for the Columbus Blue Jackets and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
The two-time Vezina Trophy (NHL’s best goalie) winner wasn’t with the team for a game against the Nashville Predators on Thursday because of an undisclosed incident.
“There are certain expectations and values that we have established for our players that define our culture,” general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. “An incident occurred in which Sergei failed to meet those expectations and values.”
Bobrovsky was back with the Blue Jackets on Friday, but it was a bizarre occurrence for a team in third place in the Metropolitan Division.
Birds of a different feather
Friday’s game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Ducks gave an interesting window into the state of both teams.
The Penguins rallied from a three-goal deficit to win 7-4 in Anaheim and continued to soar toward first place in the Metropolitan with their sixth straight road victory. The Ducks collapsed and fell to 0-7-3 in their past 10 games, which puts plenty of pressure on coach Randy Carlyle.
NHL’s three most snakebitten players
1. Tyler Seguin, C, Dallas Stars
His combined total of 11 hit posts and crossbars leads the league, and his 59 missed shots rank 11th.
2. Brandon Saad, LW, Chicago Blackhawks
Only Saad has hit as many crossbars (five) as Seguin, and he also has hit four posts. His nine total pipes hit is tied for second in the league.
3. Johnny Gaudreau, LW, Calgary Flames
Gaudreau is tied for the league lead with eight posts hit, meaning he clanks the puck off one about every six games. He’s also hit one crossbar.