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Benn, Seguin working to 'find a better balance' amid struggles

Montgomery apologizes for criticizing the Stars forwards, but both admit they need to find results

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

CALGARY, Alberta -- Hockey is not an easy game, so getting from the beginning of the NHL season to the end can be quite a chore.

Despite being on a 7-1-1 run right now, the Stars (8-8-2) are in the middle of some adversity. Stars coach Jim Montgomery said after a 3-2 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday that he was "very disappointed" in the play of two of his leaders -- Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.

"They've got to decide that they want to be a difference-maker," Montgomery said. "You need your No. 1 center and No. 1 left winger to step up and do more."

  

[GAME DAY GUIDE: Everything you need to know for Stars at Flames]

 

Seguin has 11 points in 18 games this season, far behind the point-a-game pace that he has been on since joining the Stars in 2013. Benn last season posted a disappointing 53 points in 78 games (his worst performance since his rookie season) and is on pace to do even worse this year with six points in 18 games. Benn has one goal on the season.

That triggered an emotional response from Montgomery after the Jets game, but he said on Tuesday that he was wrong in venting his frustrations.

"I talked to them today. I told them I was emotional after the game and I made a mistake," Montgomery said after a Tuesday workout in Calgary. "We win as a team and we lose as a team. ... My mistake, and I apologized to the team today and I apologized to them."

Both Benn and Seguin said no apology was necessary.

Video: Montgomery on Benn, Seguin; talks matchup with Flames

"Coaches are allowed to say that stuff. I'm not losing sleep over it," Seguin said. "I'm a great judge of my game, and I know when I'm not playing well. Obviously, results are needed in this game, and results aren't there now."

While Benn added: "He's right, there needs to be more expectations out of myself. We didn't need an apology. It's hockey, we're all grown men around here. Leave it at that, we're moving on."

And moving on means trying to repair some of the offensive woes for the top players. It appears from practice lines that Montgomery will move Seguin to the right wing on a line with Benn at left wing and Justin Dowling at center.

"You're always trying new things, and right now we're trying news things again," Montgomery said. "The regular season seems to be a continuous experiment until you get healthy and you have your lines and you get some continuity and you get success."

Seguin said he believes moving to the wing could be a good thing for him. The 27-year-old center has one goal in the past 14 games.

"You're not thinking more offensively, but you should get more offense being a winger," Seguin said of the fact centers have deep defensive responsibilities. "Obviously, you're not all the way down in your own zone. But no matter where you are on the ice, I'm going to do my job, whether that's first-line center or fourth-line right wing.

"I'm going to be prepared (Wednesday) night, and I'm looking forward to it."

Video: Seguin says he understands Montgomery's frustrations

The Stars have played a more conservative style under Montgomery. They ranked 28th in scoring at 2.55 goals per game last season and are 29th at 2.39 this season. Seguin was asked if this is a hard way to play hockey.

"That's a question for the coach and not me," Seguin said. "I'd like to have more offense, but the system is the system, and when you're winning games, you're happy. I don't care if I get zero goals or 60 goals, as long as you're successful, I'm on board.

"That's why I'm here -- to win hockey games."

Benn said battling through adversity can be good. Both he and Seguin had offensive problems last season, but broke out of their slumps and helped Dallas get to the second round of the playoffs.

"Every team kind of goes through it," Benn said. "It's hockey. I think starting 1-7-1, obviously it's disappointing. But we've faced adversity, so if it comes again this year, we're going to know what to do to get out of it."

Mattias Janmark didn't practice Tuesday because of a lower-body injury and is likely out for Wednesday's game against Calgary. Roman Polak (fractured sternum) is a possibility to return, but is more likely to play Thursday at Vancouver, Montgomery said. Nick Caamano has been called up from the AHL, and he is a possibility to fill in for Janmark.

Whatever happens, the Stars are hopeful they can not only embrace the defensive style that has helped them gain points in eight of the past nine games, but can also get some more goal production from key players.

"I've got to find a better balance," Seguin said. "You look at this 18-game segment and there's more bad than good right now. I can be accountable and take ownership of that."

 

Stars (8-8-2) at Flames (10-7-3)

Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. CT

TV: FOX Sports Southwest, ESPN+ (outside Dallas-Fort Worth market)

Radio: The Ticket 1310-AM, 96.7-FM

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.

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