Kirill Kaprizov doesn’t just score goals. He will fuck you up.
The 24-year-old rookie has already established himself as another top-level NHL talent that is more than worth the admission price. Catching eyeballs from all over the league, making every neutral fan tune in just to watch some late-game heroics or some dazzling playmaking.
But he’s more than that and it took just over 50 games to see it.
On Wednesday night against the Vegas Golden Knights, all hell broke loose and Kaprizov was at the center of it.
Vegag defender Nic Hague caught him with a vicious hit by the benches and the rookie took exception to that. A scrum was formed and it ended with Kaprizov punching in Zach Whitecloud’s nose to leave his white jersey a little more red.
Wild winger Marcus Folgino has experience being the center of a scrap as well — as he was on Wednesday as he battled against Hague later in the period — and he just absolutely loves that the young Kaprizov will get right in there with him.
“He gets ticked off, and it’s awesome to see that coming from a superstar. He elevates everyone,” said Foligno. “Whenever he gets hit, we don’t really worry because he’s such a big guy already that he can take it and he can give it. We’ve just got to make sure he’s not taking it every game.”
Like Foligno mentioned, Kaprizov can’t go doing it every single game, but when he does, you know it’s an emotional explosion.
“People get surprised when it’s the goal-scorer or skilled guy that sticks his nose in there. Why wouldn’t he?” Wild head coahc Dean Evason said. “Everyone should do it. If you don’t score goals, you stick your nose in there and stick up for a teammate. If you do, you should do the exact same thing.
“He stands up for himself. He stands up for his teammates. There was a race to get to their guy that hit him from our group. There’s no question that we’re a team. We stick together.”
Watching this team battle through any conflict as a unit is why every single member of this fan base is drooling at the upcoming playoffs. With skilled players like Kevin Fiala and Kaprizov, they can make more than their usual whimper in the first round.
Up against (most likely) one of the Vegas Golden Knights or Colorado Avalanche off the hop isn’t the easiest task, but as we saw on Wednesday and beyond, there’s some fight in this team on the ice, on both sides of the whistle.