Record-breaking games, Rookie of the Year hype, and now a chance to play for the Stanley Cup.
Kirill Kaprizov's debut season in the NHL keeps getting more and more special, but how the Wild performs is more of a priority to the forward than any personal accolades he's achieving along the way.
"Obviously, it's great," Kaprizov said Tuesday through translator Ilya Kravtchouk after the team practiced ahead of facing the Blues on Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center. "I'm proud, but it's not something I really think or focus on. I just try to play my game and do the best that I can every single day."
Fact is it's impossible to separate Kaprizov's impact from the Wild's success, the two becoming intertwined from the very first game of the season when Kaprizov capped off a three-point introduction to the league by scoring in overtime.
Since then, he's continued to deliver in impressive fashion, with the past week one of his best stretches.
He scored five goals in four games, surpassing Marian Gaborik for the most goals and points in a Wild rookie season.
One of the goals he scored Friday at Los Angeles was his slickest so far, a drive to the net after the puck slid through his legs.
"It's all situational," he said. "When you're on the ice, you have to react. Things are moving very, very fast, so I was in the right place at the right time. The move was there. I did it. It's not something I regularly practice. It's kind of just instinctive."
That skillful display only boosted Kaprizov's candidacy as the NHL's top rookie, a race he's been leading from the get-go. He's still pacing all first-year players in goals (22) and points (41) while ranking tied for second in assists (19), but others are getting closer — like Dallas' Jason Robertson.
Although Kaprizov tries not to contemplate the Calder spotlight, he's constantly reminded about it on social media and he's aware of Robertson's push.
"Of course, seeing another opponent there, it helps motivate you," Kaprizov said. "It makes you want to do better, and that's as any competitor would. But other than that, I don't focus or think about it to be honest."
And by going on one of his most productive runs of the season, Kaprizov helped the Wild extend its win streak to a season-high seven games and clinch a playoff spot last Saturday.
Overall, Kaprizov has six goals during a five-game goal streak that is one shy of tying the Wild record of six accomplished twice, most recently by Nino Niederreiter Nov. 14-24, 2017. He also leads the team in goals and points, further proof he's been essential to the Wild even if he won't acknowledge it.
"I don't like to give myself compliments," he said. "I don't like to think of myself as an outlier. To be honest, at the end of the day, it was a team. All the guys got together. We all played well. It was a team effort, and at the end of the day, that's really all it's about and all I focus on — that it's a team game and how we can get better as a team."
Kaprizov, who turned 24 on Monday, actually feels he can improve his play — "defensively, offensively, every aspect of the game," he said.
What's already on the upswing is his English, particularly when he's around his teammates.
"I feel a lot more comfortable with the guys talking and listening and understanding," Kaprizov said. "Maybe sometimes outside the locker room maybe I tend to get a little shy, but overall it's going a lot better and I'm slowly starting to pick up a lot."
He misses his friends and his mom's cooking, and his life since moving to Minnesota has become "rink, home, sleep, travel, eat, repeat."
Rarely does he leave home but when he has, Kaprizov's been recognized a few times in the community even while wearing a hat and mask, getting asked, "Hey, is that you?"
His contract is up after this season and although he hasn't been part of any talks so far on a new deal, Kaprizov said he'll get involved in those discussions in the summer.
For now, he's focused on the rest of the season. He's excited about the playoffs, but there's work to do before they start.
"We still have nine games to go," Kaprizov said. "We need to continue to play at a high level and get ourselves prepared and ready so that we can come into the playoffs hot."