LAS VEGAS – Marcus Foligno isn't on the Wild's road trip and hasn't played a game in three weeks.
But the veteran winger is still having an impact on the team while recovering from injury, showcasing his leadership by checking in with teammates.
"He's very in tune with what's going on with the team," coach Dean Evason said, "very in tune with what's going on with individuals, and he's a person that's not afraid to step up and have a chat with somebody positively or somebody who needs a little boost. We miss him, for sure."
Foligno was hurt March 12 against Arizona when he took a Jonas Brodin shot off the lower part of his right leg.
Although General Manager Bill Guerin said recently that Foligno is progressing from his lower-body injury, Foligno still hasn't rejoined the Wild's daily routine. But the 29-year-old, who signed a three-year, $9.3 million contract extension before the season, is still finding a way to be involved with these conversations — talks that Evason said the team didn't ask him to have.
"That's just his personality," Evason explained. "That's just his makeup and even when you're not putting your gear on, you're still trying to help the hockey cub have success. If that means speaking to somebody about something or just being around when he's around and chatting, all that good stuff, he's a player that does that.
"There's some guys that do it more than others. There's some guys that don't do it. But Moose is a guy that can lead even though he doesn't have his skates on."
Center of attention
Rookie Kirill Kaprizov became the franchise leader for most even-strength points by a rookie in a single season (26) when he scored his 12th goal Wednesday in the 4-2 loss at San Jose.
Evason thought Kaprizov was "real good" late in that contest after believing the 23-year-old "hit the wall" a few games before that.
"We've seen flashes of what we saw earlier in the year," Evason said. "We have to remember, and I think we all do, is that teams are very aware of who he is and his capabilities. They're pre-scouting him and watching video on him and his tendencies. When that happens, he has to share the puck a little bit. He has to simplify like anybody has to do and shoot more pucks, get to the net and score some dirty goals.
"He's still going to have the skill set to score those pretty goals, but he's getting special attention. But he's battling through it."
Back in action
When goalie Kaapo Kahkonen played Wednesday against the Sharks, he was coming off a season-high four straight games as the backup to Cam Talbot, who was back in the crease Thursday at Vegas.
"[Goaltending coach Frederic Chabot] mentioned afterward that it took [Kahkonen] a bit probably to find his game again," Evason said. "Maybe there was an element there. But he competes his butt off, so the rust was thrown off him pretty quickly."
Rau plays, Sturm sits
Aside from subbing in Talbot, the Wild made one other change to the lineup Thursday by inserting Kyle Rau and scratching Nico Sturm.
"Just a little different look," Evason said of the forward swap.
This was Rau's first game since March 10 vs. the Golden Knights. He'd been sidelined with an upper-body injury.