It was a bit of a weird year for everyone’s favorite future captain. Benn missed the first five games of the season due to his contract issues and arrived on the team without having played with Jaromir Jagr or Ray Whitney, guys he would center for much of the year.
Those chemistry issues were quickly put to rest, mostly due to Jagr’s ability to click with his linemates, and Benn started his season with a great run, registering 14 points in the first 16 games. Things were coming up aces for Benn offensively until the calendar flipped to April.
After registering double-digit points in January and February, Benn had only eight points in the critical stretch of games (two points in the final five games) and often disappeared from games.
Now, much of that could be attributed to a nagging wrist issue that bothered him for six weeks, per the great Mike Heika. That would certainly explain why he scored only six goals in the final two months of the season. The constant fluctuation of the players around him also did no favors for Benn.
While there can be some excuses for his offense, there can be none about his defense. It happened a bit inexplicably this season, but Benn often, way too often, found himself on the ice for an opposing goal.
I hate, really really hate, to use plus/minus as any indicator for anything in reference to a player’s skill, but there was definitely a reason why Benn was a career worst minus-12 this season.
There was a bad stretch in late-January/early-February when Benn was just lost on defense, always late to cover his man and always getting beaten to the puck around the net. Defensive-zone turnovers also became an issue. Things got a bit better at the end of the season, but that’s when his offense failed him.
In the end, Benn still led the team in points and shots on goal, but I still feel like this was a down year for Benn, especially since he got himself a new contract this year.
2013 Prediction: 45 GP, 14 goals, 29 assists, 43 points, +16 rating, 28 PIM
2013 Actual Stats: 41 GP, 12 goals, 21 assists, 33 points, -12 rating, 40 PIM
Ancillary stats of note: 71 hits (3rd among forwards), 46.1 FO%, 110 shots, 19:54 TOI/G (2nd most among forwards), 3:19 PP TOI/G (2nd among forwards), 10 PP points
I mentioned before the season started that it was really good to be Loui Eriksson. Everyone’s favorite underrated player was entering this year surrounded by playmakers in Benn, Jagr, Whitney and Derek Roy. Everything was set up perfectly to be near a point-per-game player.
In that aspect, it was great to be Eriksson. He was a nightmare for the opposition as he found golden scoring opportunities in abundance this season.
The only problem here was that the nightmare applied to both sides. I’ve never seen Loui look so inept on the offensive end of the ice. His shooting percentage of 11.5 was the worst since his rookie year in 2006-07 and a full three points lower than his career average.
It wasn’t just the average; it was the nature of his chances as well. These were one-on-one opportunities, shots with the goalie out of position and golden chances in which he couldn’t even hit the net.
I would usually chalk up things like this to injury, but it seems Loui was perfectly healthy and will be playing for Sweden in the World Championships.
It’s quite literally a mystery as to what happened to Loui this year. I just hope it can all be attributed to the constant shifting of the players around him and a clear distress that he was getting so many PIMs this season, a whopping eight.
Loui still managed 12 goals (tied for second on the team) and was his usual healthy self to the tune of his second year of 20:00+ minutes of TOI/G.
2013 Prediction: 48 GP, 20 goals, 22 assists, 42 points, +19, 2 PIM
2013 Actual Stats: 48 GP, 12 goals, 17 assists, 29 points, -9, 8 PIM
Ancillary stats of note: 20:07 TOI/G (1st among forwards), 104 shots, 155:51 PP TOI (1st among forwards), 10 PP points