During the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, Tyler Seguin is enduring a scoring slump at the “even the Dallas Stars can’t deny it” level. Stars coach Rick Bowness couldn’t totally dismiss Seguin’s scoring struggles before Game 3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET. NBCSN; livestream).
“Do we need more from him? Yes,” Bowness said. ”He had some really good looks last game. He needs one of those to go in, there’s no question. He’s working. He needs a break.”
Seguin believes he can shake off 2020 Stanley Cup scoring slump
During the past 11 playoff games, Seguin failed to score a single goal, and settled for a single assist. Stretching back through the entire 2020 postseason, Seguin produced two goals and six assists for eight points over 22 games played.
While I’m sure Seguin is growing weary about production questions, he gave an upbeat answer to the media.
”I feel like I’ve been playing a lot better as of late,” Seguin said. ”Definitely looking for that one bounce, but good things are happening when you’re getting chances and that’s what you look at.”
Indeed, Seguin’s gotten some looks.
Through the first two games of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, Seguin fired five shots on goal. During this postseason, he’s averaged about 2.64 SOG per game (58 in 22).
That’s a little off his full career playoff average (3.05 SOG per game), which already represents a drop-off from Seguin’s regular season career (3.51 SOG per game), but it’s not like Seguin’s totally in his own head. Maybe.
Can Seguin snap out of this streak?
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Seguin heat up as this series goes along. The talent is there, and at 28, it’s not as if he’s totally out of the window of his peak.
That said, it’s also fair to wonder if we should become accustomed to Seguin shooting slumps.
Consider his playoff career. While Seguin’s career shooting percentage (5.1, 13 goals in 84 playoff games) is better than his ice-cold 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs run (3.4 percent, two goals in 22 games), it’s not exactly promising.
As mentioned before, Tyler Seguin’s playoff scoring struggles remind me of Rick Nash. Whether it’s a flaw in his game, or prolonged bad luck, it’s baffling (because it’s not just one postseason).
Throughout his playoff career, Seguin’s been snakebitten. His playoff debut represents the only time his postseason shooting percentage was in double digits (three goals, seven points in 13 games, 13.64 percent during the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup run).
Aside from that, Seguin’s second-best percentage was just 8.16 percent, while he’s mostly been below even five percent.
It’s fair to wonder if, for all of his skill, Seguin may simply settle for being a “volume shooter.”
After enjoying 11.9 percent shooting or better through his first three seasons with the Stars, Seguin’s shooting percentage went below 10 percent during three of his last four campaigns. Overall, his career 10.7 shooting percentage is respectable, but maybe not quite what you’d expect from someone whose talent seems evident from the “eye test.”
While it seems clear that Seguin is working hard, he’s generally been getting out-chanced, so he’s not exactly providing lockdown defense in lieu of production.
Being that his frequent linemates Jamie Benn (18 points in 23 GP) and Alexander Radulov (17 points in 23 GP) have been making big impacts, it’s all the more puzzling that Seguin can’t buy a bucket.
None of this is to condemn Seguin as a player. We see plenty of scorers go ice cold, especially when goals are so hard to come by amid playoff competition. It seems like Seguin’s been close on multiple occasions, and he might get on a roll if he can work past this.
Yet, as the 2020 Stanley Cup Final wages on, it’s also fair to wonder if Bowness may feel tempted to make some tweaks. Maybe someone like Roope Hintz would get more out of Radulov and Benn? Perhaps Benn could center a line with Radulov and, say, Denis Gurianov or Joel Kiviranta, being that Benn’s been beastly on faceoffs lately? And maybe easier matchups may open up space and confidence-boosting chances for Seguin?
Aggravating as it must be, Seguin’s struggles remain a factor to watch during this tight series.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars (Series tied 1-1)
Stars 4, Lightning 1 (recap)
Lightning 3, Stars 2 (recap)
Game 3: Wednesday, Sept. 23, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
Game 4: Friday, Sept. 25, 8 p.m. ET – NBC (livestream)
Game 5: Saturday, Sept. 26, 8 p.m. ET – NBC (livestream)
*Game 6: Monday, Sept. 28, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
*Game 7: Wednesday, Sept. 30, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.