Matty Beniers and Owen Power picked as the first two selections in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. For two seasons, they shared the same college dressing room together, traveled together, and won together.
Tonight, for the first time in their careers, they will play against each other.
Beniers, taken one pick after Power went first overall to Buffalo, will square off against each other for the first time since leaving the Michigan Wolverines as sophomores last season, prepared for the third meeting in Seattle Kraken history against the Buffalo Sabres, 7pm PT (93.3 KJR / Kraken Audio Network) at Climate Pledge Arena.
Enemies at puck drop were typical friends yesterday. Beniers said he spent a planned team day off with Power, already in town ahead of tonight’s game, over dinner and trip to Beniers’ residence.
“We were catching up, weren’t talking about much hockey,” said Beniers.
Beniers, also saying he enjoyed the off day over a routine nap, errands and appointment viewing of Game of Thrones in addition to quality time with Power, will bring his game of flash against the hulking and imposing frame of Power, a matchup showcasing two potential Calder Trophy hopefuls.
“He’s obviously an unbelievable player,” Power told the Buffalo media. “Just good at both ends of the puck. But how good of a shot and how good of a goal scorer he is, you have to careful of him.”
The Kraken took Monday off as a day of recalibration after a stunning defeat to Chicago on Sunday, where a 4-3 lead went up in smoke in a span of two Blackhawks goals in 13 seconds.
“The schedule dictates the rhythm of our practices and days off,” Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol said. “The reality is we’ve played a lot of hockey and we’ve had a lot of travel.”
Martin Jones will start in net for the second straight game. The Kraken may need him for a bit after Philipp Grubauer was placed on injured reserve, retroactive to last Friday when he left a 3-2 win at Colorado early with a lower body injury in the third period.
Hakstol said the injury is being monitored as a day-to-day situation and Jones may see a heavier workload, now with the called-up Joey Daccord as a backup.
“He’s really calm in net,” said Hakstol. “He reads plays well and has been good for us. He’s been reliable from training camp up to this point, and a veteran guy – so he understands his role and situations.”
Under head coach Don Granato, the Sabres perhaps have reached a new checkpoint in growth at 4-1, and although it’s early in the season, have produced the NHL’s second-best offense out of the gate and scored 4.4 goals per game.
Aside from Power, still at the green age of 19, fellow first overall pick Rasmus Dahlin has shown signs of not just taking the next step but erupting to the next level. Following a career-high 13 goals last season, he leads Buffalo with eight points and became the first defenseman in NHL history to score a goal in his first five games of the season.
“They play with pace and can make plays,” said Hakstol. “It’s a group you have to make sure you take time and space away, attack in the right ways, and defend before they get rolling.”
Based on line morning skate line rushes, the Kraken, 2-0 lifetime against Buffalo, will likely Shane Wright and Ryan Donato in favor of Daniel Sprong and Yanni Gourde, the latter who missed Sunday’s loss for personal reasons.
PROJECTED KRAKEN LINEUP VS BUFFALO, 10/25: