Kaprizov, Fiala Disappear Again

AP Photo: Stacy Bengs

Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala had historic seasons with the 2022 Minnesota Wild. Kaprizov broke franchise records in goals (47), assists (61) and points (108). Fiala had a career year, posting 85 points (33 G, 52 A) of his own, promising to make himself a rich man when he gets paid this offseason.

But there was one hurdle the two stars had yet to jump over during their young careers. Both players have struggled to be the offensive forces in the NHL Playoffs that they have regularly proven to be during the season. Unfortunately, Monday’s 0-4 Blues shutout at Xcel Energy Center will only advance their no-show playoff narrative.

The Wild struggled to find any offense 5v5 or on the power play and needed one of their stars to break the ice. But it never happened. The Wild’s 3rd line of Joel Eriksson Ek, Marcus Foligno and Jordan Greenway (GREEF) was the only grouping that challenged the Blues’ defense. They more than doubled the “Corsi For” of the two lines built to carry this team offensively. But even when confronted, Villa Hussa wasn’t letting anything through.

Dean Evason needed one of Kirill Kaprizov or Kevin Fiala to make a superstar play but nobody rose to the occasion. It felt like so many playoff games we’ve watched this team play in before. Good chances come few and far between, even while the shot attempts pile up. And when high-percentage opportunities present themselves, the Wild can’t capitalize. Deja vu.

Playoff No-Shows

Kevin Fiala has a lot more playoff experience than Kaprizov. Monday was his 30th playoff game but Kevin has just 9 goals and 3 assists in all that action. Spread over 82 games, that’s 25 goals and 8 assists, numbers that wouldn’t get anyone paid.

Kirill Kaprizov has just one playoff appearance to look back on, but the 2021 postseason wasn’t pretty for the young superstar, who posted just 2 goals and 1 assist in 7 games. After Monday night, his “games played” statistic moved to 8. Still 2 goals and 1 assist.

If the Minnesota Wild are going to turn this series around, it will be thanks to their most skilled players doing the same. Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala have to be better and they have to put some points on the board.

Those guys are what sets the Wild apart from the Blues and many teams in the NHL. If they’re neutralized, like they were on Monday night and like they have been throughout their careers, then the Wild are severely outmatched.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan