Wild superstar Kirill Kaprizov wowing everyone but himself
The biggest thing that helps Kaprizov separate himself from some of his counterparts is his physicality.
ST. PAUL -- The exact moment that Minnesota Wild superstar Kirill Kaprizov takes over a game is hard to pinpoint.
It can be something as obvious as him scoring a goal when it matters most. It can be something as simple as him winning a board battle during an otherwise nondescript shift.
All the pieces matter, though, and the culmination can oftentimes be spectacular — as it was on Sunday afternoon at Xcel Energy Center.
Though he already has put together some masterpieces in his nascent career, Kaprizov’s performance in leading the Wild to a 3-2 overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets might have been his magnum opus. He was a man on a mission throughout and put the finishing touches on a natural hat trick with the game-winner in the extra session.
“It’s got to be the best performance we’ve seen,” coach Dean Evason said without hesitation. “He obviously had an incredible game.”
It’s hard to argue with that assessment considering the impact Kaprizov had on the game, especially in the final 20 minutes of regulation with the Wild trailing by a pair of goals.
You could feel him taking over the game in real time. After cutting the deficit in half with a redirection in front, Kaprizov tied the game a few minutes later with a snipe on the power play. He was on such a heater at that point that it felt like he was going to score a goal any time he hopped over the boards.
What does it feel like on the Wild bench when he takes over?
“It’s fun,” Evason said with a smile. “It’s also hard to tell because he rarely doesn’t have it. He plays like that all the time.”
Ryan Hartman has played with Kaprizov long enough to know what to do when he’s firing on all cylinders.
“I try to get out of the way most of the time,” Hartman said with a laugh. “He’s so strong and when he wants to take over, he can.”
The biggest thing that helps Kaprizov separate himself from some of his counterparts is his physicality. Just ask Blue Jackets superstar Johnny Gaudreau. He engaged with Kaprizov a few times throughout the game and learned the hard way when he absorbed a huge hit down the stretch.
“There’s a lot of guys that don’t want to pay the price like that,” Evason said. “He’s as physical as he is skilled.”
That willingness to compete in the hard areas reminds goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury of another very special player. He was teammates with future hall of famer Sidney Crosby for more than a decade and has noticed some similarities in the way Kaprizov plays a complete game.
“It’s all similar to Sid,” Fleury said. “Obviously, he’s got a great finish, too.”
Not surprisingly, Kaprizov downplayed his individual effort in the Wild locker room. Asked where he’d rank his performance, Kaprizov responded, “I wouldn’t say it ranks anywhere specific.”
He then credited his teammates for how hard they worked throughout the game. That speaks to the selflessness that Evason consistently references whenever he talks about Kaprizov.
“Ultimately, the win is the most important thing,” Kaprizov said. “That’s what I focus on.”
This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.