If at first you don’t succeed …
The 2021 Winter Classic was supposed to feature a matchup between the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild at the Target Center in Minneapolis. That game was postponed due to the global pandemic so the teams will try again on New Year’s Day.
The timing couldn’t be better as the Blues and Wild are sitting in the top two positions in the Central Division heading into Friday’s games.
The game will feature two of the top scoring teams on 5×5 situations as Minnesota has 109 goals in 30 games and St. Louis 108 in 32 games.
With frigid temperatures forecast for minus-15 degrees, it could wind up as the coldest outdoor event in NHL history.
Some have been slow to jump on the bandwagons of either team as Minnesota (+1400) has the seventh-best odds to win the Stanley Cup while 14 teams are ahead of St. Louis (+2800) according to the NHL playoff odds.
- Game: St. Louis (18-9-5) at Minnesota (19-9-2)
- Location: Target Field
- Day/Time: Saturday 7 p.m. ET
- Television: TNT
St. Louis vs Minnesota Wild Betting Lines
|St. Louis||+1½ (-225)||Ev||5½ (-125o)|
|Minnesota||-1½ (+185)||-120||5½ (+105u)|
Blues’ Tarasenko Returning to Elite Level
There were plenty of rumors flying around about Vladimir Tarasenko playing for another team during the 2021-22 season.
After registering five consecutive 30-goal seasons and leading St. Louis with 11 postseason goals during the Blues’ improbable run to the 2019 Stanley Cup title, the talented winger managed just seven goals while being limited to a total of 34 games during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.
It didn’t take Tarasenko long to prove that he was returning to his place as one of the NHL’s best wingers. After being held without a point in his first game of the season, Tarasenko had points in seven straight games. Some of his best work came in December with five games of at least two points.
The 29-year-old Tarasenko leads St. Louis with 13 goals and 22 points. He is the only St. Louis forward to play in all 32 games. Not even a 10-day break due to COVID-19 could slow down Tarasenko as he wrapped up 2021 with a goal and two assists in a win over Edmonton.
Winning at home against St. Louis has been a bit of a challenge for the Wild. The Blues have won four of the last six games at Minnesota despite being favored just once according to the Las Vegas odds.
No Place Like Home for Minnesota Wild
While Target Field is not the normal home for the Minnesota Wild, they certainly have proven to be one of the toughest teams to beat on home ice.
After posting a 21-5-2 home record during the 2020-21 season, home cooking is once again driving the Wild. The Florida Panthers and Colorado Avalanche are the only teams with better point percentages at home than Minnesota. The Wild are the second-highest scoring team in home games.
Minnesota is 10-2-1 at home despite ranking near the bottom of the NHL in power-play and penalty-kill success rate in home games.
The success at home has been led by the forward duo of Kirill Kaprizov, who has seven goals and 14 assists in 13 home games, including two game-winning goals, and Mats Zuccarello. Zuccarello has missed three home games but he still has six goals and six assists.
They will be playing a St. Louis team that is 6-6-3 on the road, although the Blues are converting on 29.3 percent of their power plays away from home.
Those who bet online might be interested to know that the home team has won just four of the first 12 Winter Classics.
Another One-Goal Game on Tap?
Six of the previous 12 Winter Classics have been decided by a goal and only once has the game not been decided by either one or two goals, so look for another tight affair. In the last seven meetings between the teams in Minnesota, five resulted in a one-goal game.
The total has gone over in six of Minnesota’s last seven games and in 11 of the Wild’s last 15 games. With the way Minnesota tends to score goals at home, this could turn into an offensive showcase.
St. Louis has dealt with a large number of injuries, especially at the forward position, but Robert Thomas returned to the lineup and had a goal in a win over Edmonton in the Blues’ final game of 2021. Forward Pavel Buchnevich also has a chance to play.
St. Louis has won six of the last seven games against Minnesota, but we are going with the host Wild to pull out a close one and continue their impressive play on home ice.