Will injury to Kirill Kaprizov derail streaking Minnesota Wild?

Minnesota Wild, Kirill Kaprizov #97. (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images)
Minnesota Wild, Kirill Kaprizov #97. (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Wild superstar forward Kirill Kaprizov will be out for the next 3-4 weeks.

The injury news comes at an inopportune time, as Minnesota is playing, perhaps, as well as it’s played all season. Every team with its sights set on the Stanley Cup Playoffs wants to peak at the right time, and it was starting to like the Wild may have been doing just that.

Kaprizov’s squad just picked up a huge two points against the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday to pull even with the Dallas Stars in the Central Division. The Stars have since picked up another win, but the point is that Minnesota’s 9-0-2 streak has them contending for the top spot in the West.

On the season, the Wild are 37-21-7, and Kaprizov has contributed a team-leading 39 goals and 74 points. Will his team be knocked off course by his absence?

Can the Wild overcome the loss of Kaprizov?

My initial thought was that this injury would be too much for the Wild to overcome. Upon further review, however, Kaprizov hasn’t necessarily been the reason for Minnesota’s recent success.

Yes, his ten points (eight goals and two assists) in those 11 games have been important, but he hasn’t posted earth-shattering numbers. It’s instead been the goaltending that has guided the Wild to 20 points in the standings in the last 11 contests.

The duo of Marc-Andre Fleury (four starts) and Filip Gustavsson (seven starts) has recorded a save percentage of .955 or higher in eight out of 11 games during this streak, including three shutouts. As a team, the Wild have surrendered more than two goals in a game only once in that span.

Those are astronomical numbers, and if the goaltenders for the Wild can continue to play half that well, this team will have no problem extending its point streak.

Minnesota’s defense is the best among Western Conference teams, giving it an edge, even without Kaprizov in the lineup.

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Can the Wild score enough goals to win in the playoffs if their young star is unavailable? Probably not. However, they may not need to score many in the meantime, as the defense has been more than capable of stealing games in the last month.