If six even strength goals and a disappointing 4.48% individual shooting percentage after 56 games is what you envisioned for star pivot, Tyler Seguin, chances are you should have played the lottery, because that, my friends, would have been one hell of a call.
A Jamie Benn hat trick should help Tyler Seguin break out of a goal-scoring rut, shouldn’t it? Even the best of scorers can’t escape periods of inability to find the back of the net, built into the randomness of goal scoring. This ineffectiveness is plunging into uncharted territory for the highly skilled center.
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With 11 goals overall, 2019-20 has been a mighty struggle for the former Boston Bruins 2nd overall selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Traded twice – once as a draft pick from the Maple Leafs to the Bruins, in the Phil Kessel trade, and once again to the Dallas Stars, Kessel visited the Maple Leafs when his Arizona Coyotes played them on Tuesday night (a 3-2 overtime loss), and the Stars are scheduled to play the Leafs on Thursday. It’s a history lesson being played out live.
Speaking of other live games, this is the slate of games tonight on NHL on NBC. Click on the links for a stream of the game on NBCSN.
This season’s production amounts to Seguin’s career worst over different metrics. The recently turned 28-year-old (on January 31) has now gone 17 games without scoring a goal (17-0-9-9), firing 58 shots during that span. For a visual of what his season has been like so far, this tweet captures it all.
— TPark (Cordell) (@tparkerino) February 9, 2020
Seguin’s been firmly entrenched in a struggle to generate individual scoring chances at 5v5 – on pace for 178 individual scoring chances, just over his career average of 166, but well below the 207 from 2018-19. Similar results have emerged from the high danger scoring chance generation. He topped 100 chances in 2018-19 averaging and has averaged 67.9 individual chances per season. He’s on pace for 80 thus far in an 82 game pace, which is still above average, where overall results haven’t emerged. The element of luck in statistical analysis plays a major role here.
Disparity appears in the per 60 minutes metrics, too, with individual levels caving to those not seen since his rookie season. Part of that is on him and part of it on the on-ice conditions.
Isolating on-ice scoring chances from different danger zones/distances in the table below, the colour code for each column shows his best seasons in darker shades of blue, and his worst seasons in the darkest shades of red. Using the HDCF/60 column, it shows that Dallas been a consistent threat when on the ice from high danger areas during his tenure. Except for this season, where the numbers have dipped.
In 2019-20 the scoring chances (SCF) and both high (HD) and medium (MD) danger chances are very close to career averages. It’s low danger chance generation where the biggest dip occurs, somewhat perplexing in that this zone shouldn’t really affect scoring in this heavy a manner. Scoring chances from low danger areas don’t yield very consistent results, so on-ice conditions along aren’t the driving factor for the lack of production.
Quality of Teammates
Attempting to pin the scoring struggles on his individual efforts (what’s wrong with Seguin) loses sight of the effect of his teammate’s struggles. Seguin has contributed a point on 80% of 5v5 on-ice goals. It doesn’t help that his most common linemate, Jamie Benn, has only scored 15 goals in 55 games entering the contest against the Hurricanes, Tuesday night.
Benn must have been tipped off that he would be included in today’s write up, so he scored a hat trick in the 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes, Tuesday night. He scored his 16th in the first period at 5v5 and added his 17th on the power play late in the second period. His third was an awarded goal – in that it never hit the back of the net. Watch it here.
— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) February 12, 2020
He’s been producing well below his expectations despite the hat trick performance. During the period of Seguin’s goal drought, Benn has scored 10 goals – more than half his season’s production in 17 games. Seguin assisted on five of those goals. Has the offensive drought ended? Might be a bit too early to tell, but don’t get fooled by a career low 5.98% on-ice shooting percentage plaguing him this season.
There’s an upside here as both Seguin and Benn find their back to at least career averages, especially if Benn begins to score at a regular clip, spurred by the hat trick.
Microstats – Zone Entries
Benn leads the Stars in rush attempts per 60 mins, almost doubling linemate Seguin and that perhaps lends a clue as to why Seguin may not be producing. While Benn has the finishing talent – and a bullish approach to zone entries and carrying the puck – Seguin thrives with the puck on his stick, given the opportunity to make plays, or fire shots on his own.
To illustrate this point we can use microstats tracked at 5v5 by Corey Sznajder – if you have the ability, support him at his Patreon. There’s a sample size warning here, but the point seems to be clear.
We can see the impact of Benn this season in comparison to similar metrics from 2018-19. Last season, Seguin had more entries and carries than Benn. They tied with 16 dump-ins and Benn failed to enter the zone in seven attempts, while Seguin didn’t record any failed entries.
In 2019-20, it’s clear that Benn is carrying the puck more. One of the elements of Seguin’s game that provides success is puck carries and touches – zone entries should be his dominion. The dynamic here may not be optimal for the Stars.
The last question, and one that is difficult to answer fully, is on the effect the coaching change this season. The removal of Jim Montgomery and promotion of Rick Bowness might have a small effect here, but it’s not easy to quantify coaching effects in general, let alone in such a specific case.
Coaches may enact the strategy and overall vision, but the player must still execute to get the job done. While there may be a slight effect, this lies solely on the main culprit, Tyler Seguin.