Kirill Kaprizov confident he will ‘break through’ when Wild need him most, which is now
He scored via a redirection in Game 1 and has been held in check ever since
Kirill Kaprizov had never gone four straight games without a point in his NHL career. Until now.
To say the Minnesota Wild have struggled to get Kaprizov going in the first-round playoff series against the Dallas Stars would be putting it lightly. He scored via a redirection in Game 1 and has been held in check ever since, with no points in Game 2, Game 3, Game 4, or Game 5. Not the best time for his worst stretch to date.
Simply put, with the Wild on the brink of elimination heading into Game 6 on Friday night at Xcel Energy Center, they need more from their recently turned 26-year-old star.
“Obviously it’s a bit frustrating,” Kaprizov said. “I’m confident this next game I should break through.”
He better. Otherwise the Wild could be going home.
After looking like a candidate for the Hart Trophy during the regular season, recording 40 goals and 35 assists despite only playing 67 games, Kaprizov hasn’t looked like himself in this playoff series. Asked if he’s been playing hurt over the past week, perhaps still bothered by the lower-body injury that kept him out a month late in the regular season, Kaprizov didn’t make any excuses for his lack of production.
“Nope,” he said. “I feel great.”
It wouldn’t be a shock to learn at some point later that Kaprizov is indeed playing through some pain. In the meantime, though, if he’s on the ice, the Wild need him to be their best player.
“There’s definitely some responsibility on my end to play better,” Kaprizov said. “Of course I feel that.”
That said, Kaprizov also is trying not to dwell on the fact that he’s not producing at his usual rate. He knows the added pressure isn’t going to do him any good. Instead, he’s focused on continuing to do the little things, confident that the rest of his game will figure itself out at some point.
“There’s not much to tell Kirill,” coach Dean Evason said while making it clear that he likes how Kaprizov has been competing. “He doesn’t need a (meeting with the coaching staff) to tell him where to go or how to play. He’s playing hard. He’ll score when we need him to score.”
His teammates agree with that assessment of Kaprizov. They have been around him long enough to know his ability to step up in big moments.
“He’s probably the best player I’ve ever played with,” veteran defenseman Matt Dumba said. ” You can see it. He’s going to break through. I know it. ”
As much as his teammates believe in him, it’s Kaprizov’s belief in himself that gives the Wild the most hope that better days are ahead.
“I’ve got to go out there and I’ve got to play my game,” Kaprizov said. “If I do that, I think it’ll turn, and the goals will come.”
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