One of those huge plusses was the return of left winger Jamie Benn
, who saw his first action in 10 games. The 21-year-old scorer had been on the shelf since suffering a shoulder injury in a 7-1 loss at Vancouver back on January 24.
But he was back on the ice for the Stars on Tuesday night and head coach Marc Crawford couldn’t have been happier about it.
“For a guy to miss a month of play and come back and arguably be your best player, that speaks volumes of Jamie. His speed is just so apparent,” Crawford said after Tuesday’s loss. “He was authoritative all night long. I think he’ll continue to get even better and better as we move forward this week. And that’s a real good sign for us as well.”
However, the Dallas head coach wasn’t at all surprised at how well Benn played, especially after being on the sidelines for almost a month.
“He was real good. I guess yes in some ways, I was surprised he was good but in other ways, no,” Crawford said. “He’s been good all year. He’s such a positive, powerful force for us. It was great to see him back in the lineup. It was a real shot in the arm for our group.”
In 47 games this year, Benn has 13 goals and 20 assists for 33 points, solid numbers for the fifth-round pick in the 2007 draft. Against the Devils, he was paired alongside 2011 NHL All-Star Loui Eriksson
and rookie Tomas Vincour
, a different combination than what he was used to before his injury.
“It was a little different. Vinnie’s a good player and we all know what Loui can do,” Benn said. “We had a couple of good shifts there but just couldn’t capitalize.”
Like the rest of his teammates, his new linemates felt he brought much to the table in a losing effort.
“He’s a great player in this league. He’s been out for a couple of games here,” Eriksson said. “It’s always nice to get a guy like him back. He played real well. He got some really good chances. He’s a really good guy for us.”
Even though this was Vincour’s first time to skate alongside Benn in a game, he too was impressed.
“I think Jamie played with a lot of energy last night. He was pretty outstanding last night,” he said. “We created a lot of chances but couldn’t score. It’s great to have him back because one of our top players right here. It’s nice to see him back.”
And when asked about his first game back on Wednesday just before he and the Stars hopped a plane to Detroit in advance of Thursday’s game against the Red Wings, the Dallas left winger admitted the whole experience except for the end result was largely positive.
“It felt good out there. It was nice to get back out there, get back into the game situations and be around the guys,” Benn said.
All told, it had been 28 days since his last game, much longer than this 21-year-old winger thought he’d miss when he originally injured his shoulder last month against the Canucks.
“It took a little longer than I thought. I think the trainers did a good job with me,” Benn said. “They felt I was in good game shape and got me back out there. I think I’m 100 percent. I feel great. I don’t think I’d be playing if I wasn’t 100 percent.”
Benn will be in search of his first goal since January 20 at Edmonton on Thursday night in Detroit when the Stars face the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Puck drop is set for 6:30 PM CT.