BOSTON – There was plenty of nastiness in Thursday night’s Boston Bruins loss to the Minnesota Wild, and it may have left the Wild without their Russian superstar Kirill Kaprizov after the Wild forward was knocked out of the game by a Trent Frederic hit in the second period.
Midway through the second period Frederic moved in to make a defensive play on Kaprizov and was unable to pull out of the hit when a stumbling Kaprizov, already engaged with Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, turned and started falling toward the side boards. Things turned ugly when Kaprizov crashed awkwardly into the side boards as Frederic leaned into him, though it did appear that the rugged Bruins center pulled up on a collision that could have been even uglier.
Kirill Kaprizov heads to the locker room after a hit by Trent Frederic pic.twitter.com/hm2S0TRt4g
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) January 7, 2022
Either way, Kaprizov was knocked out of the game and the Minnesota Wild obviously weren’t happy about it as both Dmitry Kulikov and Marcus Foligno dropped the gloves with Frederic during the game.
Frederic was assessed penalties for both boarding and a fighting major after the damaging hit on Kaprizov.
According to those that heard the conversation, Foligno went directly to the penalty box after the hit and told Frederic in no uncertain, but very colorful, terms “that he wasn’t going to leave TD Garden” without settling up in a fight with the veteran Foligno.
Frederic and Foligno did fight at the start of the third period, but that didn’t stop Minnesota from looking for a bigger pound of flesh following the game.
“Really frustrated with how Kirill got hurt,” said Minnesota head coach Dean Evason of a hit that left Kaprizov nursing his left arm as he exited the ice. “I mean, it’s a predatorial hit, 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 [to play the puck]. That is not a hockey play. The puck’s sitting right there. All he has to do is take the puck and go. In a vulnerable position, you hit a player from behind.”
Certainly, the Wild are understandably upset after losing one of the NHL’s most electrifying players and the center of their offense.
But a closer look at the play sees Frederic coming in to make a play while anticipating that Kaprizov was going to come away with the puck. Frederic isn’t the kind of skater that’s going to be able to put on the brakes once Kaprizov stumbles coming out of his engagement with Grzelcyk, and that puts him in a precarious position with Frederic.
Removing the passion and objectivity from it all, the play looks more like an unfortunate accident than something where Frederic had Kaprizov lined up in predatory style. Certainly, it could and would have been even uglier if Frederic was looking to finish off Kaprizov while inarguably in a vulnerable position falling toward the boards. That’s how Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy saw it after the game was over.
“It looked like he turned away from Grizz in a one-on-one situation and Freddy was tracking back into the zone,” said Cassidy. “I don’t know if Kaprizov stumbled or ducked. I don’t know the player that well [to make that determination]. Freddy sort of leaned into him.
“I don’t think there was any malicious intent other than separating him from the puck, which you better do. Or [Kaprizov] will l 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.”
After speaking with some folks at the league level, sense this humble hockey writer gets is that the NHL Player Safety Department is leaning more toward the B’s perspective on this one than the Wild.
Not expecting anything for Trent Frederic hit on Kirill Kaprizov. Sense I get talking to some folks at the league level is that Frederic didn’t have the time to reverse course on his play once Kaprizov started stumbling toward the boards. More an unfortunate event in a fast game
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) January 7, 2022