The Minnesota Wild’s victory over the Boston Bruins snapped a five-game losing streak and top prospect Matt Boldy scored the game-winning goal in his NHL debut. A perfect story to get back on the right track. Something that would make even Disney think it was a little too obvious. But, unfortunately, that part of Thursday’s game is not what we’re focusing on.
Before the Boldy goal and before the celebration, Bruins forward Trent Frederic went hard into the boards with Kirill Kaprizov already on his way down to the ice due to another hit while he has the puck. Kaprizov had to leave the game due to an upper-body injury and did not return. He is going to be out for a while.
Kirill appears to hurt his leg after getting tangled up, and needed help heading into the locker room. pic.twitter.com/L96x6ZjYUa— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) January 7, 2022
Frederic did not make any attempt to even play the puck or do anything hockey related. The Boston player just wanted to smush Kaprizov’s head and shoulders into the boards as hard as he could, injuring Minnesota’s best player.
For doing that, our very own Marcus Foligno taught him a little lesson on what happens if he does that.
Marcus Foligno gives a beatdown to Trent Frederic. pic.twitter.com/ITKs40waUi— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) January 7, 2022
After the game, head coach Dean Evason gave his opinion on the hit.
“Really frustrated with how Kirill got hurt,” Evason said. “I mean, it’s a predatorial hit, it’s one that the league — I mean, we don’t want that, right? The puck is sitting right there. You know what he’s doing. He’s going to hurt our best player. There’s no question that there is no intention — that is not a hockey play. The puck’s sitting right there. All he has to do is take the puck and go. And in a vulnerable position, you hit a player from behind.
“We see it all the time and it gets taken care of. I hope it gets taken care of here.”
As of Friday morning, there is no word whether this will be something the NHL’s Department of Player Safety will look at or call in Frederic for a potential hearing for a suspension or fine.
Kaprizov’s linemate Mats Zuccarello just hopes that the injury isn’t too bad.
“As a hockey fan, I would like to have Kirill out there when I’m sitting front row watching him,” Zuccarello said. “I think the fans would as well. But it’s a part of the game. Sometimes players get hurt. Hopefully it’s not too serious and he can come back quick.”
On the opposite side of the issue, Frederic himself wants to explain how he — of course, with the biggest eye roll imaginable coming from anyone that actually watched the hit — did not mean to injure Kaprizov.
“Hope he’s all right,” Frederic said. “Obviously didn’t mean to hurt him. I was just going to make a hockey play, finish a check. I haven’t really seen it, but I think he kind of fell as I was doing it. It’s hard to kind of pull off that.”
And, predictably, his coach has his back.
“I don’t think there was any malicious intent other than separating him from the puck,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said, “which you better do. Or he’ll hurt you, right? You’ve just got to do it in a legal manner. I thought it looked clean from my point. They didn’t see it that way. Obviously Minnesota’s going to react. It’s one of their best players. I get that. We would do the same.”
Thanks Bruce — whatever.
For the Wild, this is just one additional injury that is adding to the growing pile. Nick Bjugstad is going to be out six weeks, Joel Eriksson Ek is out for a little bit longer, Brandon Duhaime and Jordan Greenway are in COVID protocol for at least four more days, and Jared Spurgeon is out for a couple more weeks. With Kaprizov now out for however long he is, that is essentially half (or more) of your key players that drive the play and that the system runs around; just out of the picture.
Fortunately, due to some Canadian postponements, the Wild don’t have a stacked schedule coming up. The Washington Capitals come to town on Saturday, but after that they don’t play until the following Friday against the Anaheim Ducks, and then just the Monday and the Friday the week after. That is just four games for the next two weeks. Then the schedule picks back up with a significant road trip leading into February. Hopefully by then the COVID players will be out and it seems that Spurgeon and Eriksson Ek should be back by then as well.
The only other positive would be seeing players like Boldy and fellow top prospect Marco Rossi make their NHL debuts and put on a wonderful performance. There’s hope that they can continue the wins, but missing Kaprizov is a whole different animal that they have never experienced before.