Well the game against the Calgary Flames, like so many games this season, didn’t go perfectly. The team started strong, and took a two goal lead into the 3rd period, but ultimately it was the team in red and yellow that was victorious. And while we’ve all seen that story play out on other nights this year, there was something new and exciting about this particular late season loss. Matty Beniers made his Kraken debut. So how did he do?
Beniers got his first NHL point, an assist, on a Ryan Donato goal early in the game. The pass showed some of the vision and playmaking ability we’ve been told to expect from #10 ever since draft day, but it’s good to see him produce early on. This is a player who, as early as next season, will be expected to regularly put up points if the team is going to show improvement. It seems he has the ability to do so, in an admittedly small sample.
Beniers’ ice time (17:10), was the third most amongst Kraken forwards, and included an unsuccessful 90 seconds on the power play. That shouldn’t be seen as a negative though, a good NHL power play requires practice time, and it’s great that Beniers is getting real, significant in-game exposure with the unit this season.
He produced only a single shot on net, and was 42% in the face-off circle. Neither stat is outstanding, but the face-off percentage represents 5 wins out of 12 draws, only a whisker away from an even split. And if Beniers thinks pass first, then coach Dave Hakstol simply needs to continue to put him with finishers like Eberle and Donato.
Beniers didn’t look out of place, or overwhelmed. He looked like a talented young player, able to keep up and create with established NHL linemates. He can benefit from an offseason of training to put a bit more mass on his 6’2” frame, but unlike many first year players, he didn’t look like a scrawny teenager amongst men.
Beniers’ college career ended a couple games sooner than he would have liked, his Michigan Wolverines going out against the Denver Pioneers, but this opportunity to see the NHL game, without the pressure to perform that is a natural part of every match up when playoffs are a possibility should help Beniers, and the Kraken, find long term success.