Minnesota Wild Emerge Victorious In Overtime Kiriller

Jan 14, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Minnesota Wild center Victor Rask (49) celebrates his goal with left wing Kirill Kaprizov (97) during the third period against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 14, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Minnesota Wild center Victor Rask (49) celebrates his goal with left wing Kirill Kaprizov (97) during the third period against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /

Minnesota Wild opened their season Thursday night with a win in overtime against the Los Angeles Kings, let’s look at the key takeaways from the game. Instead of a game recap, let’s change things up today and look at the biggest takeaways from the season opener.

1. The biggest takeaway from the Wild’s season opener was that highly-touted Russian prospect Kirill Kaprizov will have an impressive rookie season. There is no doubt that he will be in the conversation for the Calder Trophy that is given to the league’s best rookie.

Given it was one game but the fact Kaprizov looked so good is a testament to his development. In many circumstances, prospects don’t look comfortable but that wasn’t the case for Kaprizov who flourished.

If you have been watching Kaprizov’s highlights in the KHL, you know he has a tantalizing shot. However, the attributes he displayed on Thursday night were his hockey IQ, vision, playmaking, and his speed. While he might not be the best skater, he was flying on the ice and was always moving. I thought it was impressive how he created space for himself and his movement really stood out.

Of course, getting on the scoresheet is a plus, but Kaprizov excelled at everything. His vision and playmaking were through the roof.

As shown above, Kaprizov displays his vision as he somehow finds Spurgeon driving to the net. This was a prime example of how Kaprizov was comfortable and ultimately flourished.

And don’t forget the magical ending that Wild fans have been waiting for…. over 5 years in the making.

Kaprizov scored the game-winning overtime goal and also recorded two assists in the season opener. It is also important to note that he led Wild forwards in ice time which displays the level of confidence Dean Evason has in him.

He becomes the first player in NHL history to record 3+ points and score the overtime winning goal in his NHL debut.

2. Kevin Fiala had himself a night, he was brilliant despite not getting on the scoresheet. He played over 21 minutes and had seven shots on net. Fiala led all forwards on both teams in 0.86 expected goals. There is no doubt in my mind that Fiala will continue his brilliance from last season. It wasn’t for a lack of trying, he just wasn’t able to finish last night.

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3. Nick Bonino looked good in his Wild debut. He was specifically strong in the faceoff circle – something the Wild struggled in overall – and won 65 percent of the faceoffs he took. He also played 18 minutes which was a hefty amount but he deserved it.

4. The Wild were once again supplied with depth scoring. Marcus Foligno scored a nice goal, had 2 shots, and 4 hits. He had a great game and was already paying dividends after he recently signed a three-year extension.

Victor Rask surprisingly was very good and scored a goal early in the third to swing the momentum in the Wild’s direction. Jonas Brodin – who only scored 2 goals in the entire 2019-20 campaign – scored his first of the season.

Aside from Kaprizov, the Wild got scoring from the players you would least expect.

5. Matt Dumba didn’t score but man was he close, he ripped one that went off the post and was inches away from starting the season with a goal. He had five shots in all and also was physical when he needed to be.

The Wild need a big season from him and he started the season on a positive note. He got unlucky on the second goal but that wasn’t his fault, that play was a direct result from Ryan Suter.

6. Cam Talbot had a strong Wild debut and it was refreshing to see a new face in the crease. The first goal was definitely on him but aside from that, he had a strong game. He finished the night saving 31 of 34 which is a .912 save percentage.

Furthermore, he had 0.71 goals saved above expected according to Evolving-Hockey. Talbot did his job and provided the Wild with stability in the net.

7. The Wild clearly have an issue down the middle and one of the biggest negative takeaways from the game is that the Wild have a faceoff problem. Maybe the Wild should call Columbus and see what the price is for Mikko Koivu?

All jokes aside, it wasn’t a good night in the faceoff circle. The Wild won 38.7 percent in the faceoff circle which will become increasingly problematic if someone doesn’t figure out how to win them.

8. The Wild may have gone 0 for 6 on the man advantage, but they had a good night on the powerplay. They generated offensive opportunities and had several high-danger chances. They just weren’t able to finish on the man advantage. Unlike the past, the Wild’s powerplays were actually watchable. They had good movement overall.

9. The Wild won, that’s what matters. With that being said, it wasn’t the best game they played including an awful second period. The Kings had the edge in expected goals and shots. If the Wild can clean up some of their mistakes from Thursday night’s season opener, they will be in good shape.

10. Dean Evason was really excited after Kaprizov’s overtime winner…

He couldn’t control his excitement, so he had to do something with it… Tony DaCosta might be a little sore today!

The Minnesota Wild play the Los Angeles Kings again tonight at 7:30 Central time. Follow us at @FSGonePuckWild for our reactions live!