They might not be statistics that jump off the page, but Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn has been productive in his young career against the Los Angeles Kings. With 18 points (7-11=18) in 24 games, the 24-year-old has amassed better numbers against Los Angeles than all but one National Hockey League team, and Benn has historically produced at Staples Center, where he has 11 points in 13 career games.
Now in his fifth NHL season, Benn has moved back to the left wing after serving primarily as a center in 2012-13. Joining forces with center Tyler Seguin and 18-year-old rookie right wing Valeri Nichushkin, Dallas’ top line has combined for 13 goals and 27 points through the team’s first 11 games in December.
He also generated challenging match-ups, according to Los Angeles defenseman Drew Doughty.
“I think he’s probably the one guy in the Western Conference who has my number more than anyone else,” Doughty said. “He’s tough to play against. He’s strong, he’s big, he has a long reach, has great hands, great shot, he’s fast. He really has every single little thing. He has grit to him, he hits hard. He’s a great player and I love playing against him, just because I know it’s going to be a tough challenge every night, and I look forward to playing against him, and I’ll try to keep him off the score sheet.”
Doughty is a lock for a Team Canada Olympic spot, and Benn has been generating the right kind of momentum with his all-around play. ESPN.com columnist Pierre LeBrun recently noted that Benn “has forced his way into the mix on left wing — and the betting money is that he makes the team.” Benn, who was not invited to Canada’s Olympic orientation camp in the summer, used the snub as motivation, according to LeBrun.
The 2007 fifth round pick certainly has an advocate in Doughty.
“I don’t see how he’s not been making a push to be on that team,” Doughty said. “I still think he’s one of the best forwards in Western Conference, for me anyway. He’s top-five hardest to play against, easily. I don’t see how he doesn’t have a shot.”