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Tyler Seguin out to raise 'average' with Stars

All-Star forward confident 'best is yet to come'

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin will play in the NHL All-Star Game for the third straight season and fourth time in seven NHL seasons. Based on that alone it would seem natural for Seguin to think he's having a good season at the very least.

"Average," Seguin said when asked how he thinks his season has gone so far.

We all get the humble nature of hockey players, but Seguin has 44 points in 46 games, good enough to be seventh in the League, and he's tied for eighth in assists (28). Those aren't average numbers. That's not an average season.

So why is it average in Seguin's mind?

"When you're having this kind of season, personally you're almost a point a game, but the team isn't having success, it doesn't put a good feeling on your year and you personally," said Seguin, who will be the Stars' lone representative at 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles from Jan. 27-29. "When I talk about my year I would never want to say this year has been great. The team is .500 right now. It definitely makes you put a lot of pressure on yourself. You want to find ways how to help the team get out of it. That's what the mindset is."

Video: MTL@DAL: Seguin redirects Johns' shot past Montoya

And that brings us to the bigger point here for Seguin and his season. The Stars are 19-19-8, two points behind the Los Angeles Kings for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. They have vastly underachieved based on their preseason expectations. If the Stars have underachieved, Seguin believes he has too.

Dallas finished first in the Western Conference last season and Seguin had 33 goals and 73 points in 72 games. The Stars advanced to the Western Conference Second Round without Seguin, who was sidelined because of an Achilles injury he still is getting over. More on that later.

This season the Stars are 27th in the League in goals-against per game (3.13), 29th on the penalty kill (74.0 percent) and 7-12-4 on the road. 

It's hard to pin those defensive numbers, especially the penalty kill, on Seguin, who has played 58 seconds shorthanded all season. But looking at the numbers and Dallas' overall erratic play, it's easy to see why average was the first word he said.

Video: MIN@DAL: Seguin kicks rebound to stick and scores

"I'd definitely take 10 more wins if I had 20 less points," Seguin said. "In the end, points are points. They reflect certain things. But there's a lot of things that I could have done differently so far. 

"I'm still trying to find ways personally and as a part of the team to get better and make us take that next step forward."

Seguin also still is trying to get his entire game back after a difficult bout with injuries, all to parts of his left leg or foot.

He sustained a partially torn left Achilles tendon on March 17, 2016. He was supposed to miss 3-4 weeks and be back for the playoffs. Seguin returned for Game 2 of the first round against the Minnesota Wild, but a left calf strain prevented him from playing again in the postseason.

Doctors also told Seguin it would be a full year before his Achilles was fully healed.

Seguin changed his training regimen to compensate for his Achilles. He altered his eating habits by hiring a personal chef and discovering kale. He went to training camp with Team Canada for the World Cup of Hockey 2016, but against Team USA in his first pretournament game, he fractured his left heel. He missed the tournament and Stars training camp.

Video: DAL@LAK: Seguin tallies on partially blocked shot

"You can talk about the actual stuff, but a lot of it was mental," Seguin said. "Missing the playoffs was mentally tough. I've never been through that before. I had to change my summer routine and that was still a little mental in getting ready that way. To have the setback I did, the first exhibition game against the U.S., that was another mental bridge that I had to get past. Then it was missing camp and preseason and trying to step in right away. It's been mental. It's been a process. Now it's about getting past that mental stuff. Now it's about building up that muscle and getting back to 100 percent."

Seguin doesn't think he's quite there yet, especially his speed. Stars coach Lindy Ruff agrees.

"There's another gear to separate from guys and to create those extra chances; he hasn't quite got that gear," Ruff said. "He's still shooting the puck really well. He's making the most of his chances. I'd just like to see him create those extra one or two chances 5-on-5 just using his legs. I don't think he's quite there. I think he thinks that too. There's been some plays he's left out there."

Which brings us back to the word average, a word rarely associated with an All-Star who is a near point-per-game player. The fact is Seguin is being hard on himself because his team has been average. But if he weren't it would be hard to believe him when he says he can help make the Stars better.

"I think the best is yet to come," Seguin said. "It's not a hope. I also know it's not just a flip of a switch. It's something I've been gearing up to. I want to be better than I have been."

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