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Blues Gameday Preview: Minnesota Wild

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The St. Louis Blues take to the ice tonight in what could be the coldest Winter Classic in NHL history. Scheduled at Target Field in Minneapolis, the Minnesota Wild and Blues will play at the home of the Minnesota Twins in front of 38,000 fans. Current forecast calls for a day with a high of -3 degrees Fahrenheit and temperatures could drop to -14, breaking the current 0-degree record set in 2003 in Edmonton for the Heritage Classic. Fans in attendance looking for tips on how to stay warm should take note of Lloyd Christmas and bring an extra pair of gloves.

Here’s a look at the intrigues ahead of tonight’s game:

2 Scenarios: Blues (18-9-5)

Blues looks to repeat the success of the winter classic

In the team’s only other appearance at the Winter Classic, the Blues beat their Central Division rival, the Chicago Blackhawks in a 4-1 win. Fan favorite Vladimir Tarasenko with two goals in the third period propelled the team to victory at Busch Stadium in 2016.

It took Vladimir Tarasenko less than two minutes to score two goals for the @StLouisBlues in the #WinterClassic 2017. # 6 in our best Winter Classic games countdown ⬇️ https://t.co/hghp0rvI7D

The annual outdoor game always seems to add a bit more excitement to players as they look forward to playing on the big stage. This year the club will bring a top-flight attacking team with an average of 3.4 goals per game and five players with 10 or more goals, led by none other than Tarasenko.

Healthy blues again

After Thursday’s practice, head coach Craig Berube informed media that the team will see forwards Oskar Sundqvist, Ivan Barbashev and Pavel Buchnevich join the team in Minnesota. During his press conference, Berube also informed the media that striker Brayden Schenn could also return to training for the Winter Classic. The head coach said:

β€œWe still have a decision to make maybe with Schenn. He might be available. It’s something we have to think about – make sure he feels comfortable playing and that we feel like we’re putting him in a good position.

Schenn skated with the extras in practice and was considered a β€œgame time decision” for the game.

RELATED: 3 Things To Watch For The Blues In The 2022 Winter Classic

The Blues were fortunate to reunite with their best forwards in their Dec. 29 clash against the Edmonton Oilers when Jordan Kyrou, Robert Thomas and David Perron returned to the squad. The three returning forwards have accumulated 57 points this year; Both Barbashev and Buchnevich are ranked in the top five for team points.

2 scenarios: wild (19-9-2)

Minnesota seeks to bounce back

The Wild are looking to get back on track today as the club are currently on a four-game losing streak and will be without forward Joel Eriksson Ek, defensemen Jonas Brodin and captain Jared Spurgeon. The team are currently 6-3-1 in their last 10 games and only 5-3-0 against opponents in the Central Division. Like St. Louis, the Wild can be just as threatening against their opponents with four players on the roster with 10 or more goals this season and averaging 3.6 goals per game as a team.

The cold doesn’t bother nature anyway

Tonight’s game against the Blues will mark Minnesota’s first winter classic. Although the organization played in the 2016 Stadium Series, it will mark their first New Years game. To date, there have been 637 NHL draft players who were born in the state of Minnesota, the highest number of all states.

Alex Goligoski Minnesota Wild-Blues Matchday Preview: Minnesota Wild - 1/1/2022
Alex Goligoski, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr / The Hockey Writers)

Asked about playing away, defenseman Alex Goligoski said, β€œIf any state would enjoy an away game, it sure would be Minnesota. These are my favorite hockey memories growing up, playing on the outdoor rink. “

You don’t have to be from Minnesota to enjoy playing hockey outdoors. Marcus Foligno, who grew up in Buffalo, New York, said about playing outdoors: β€œIt’s so much fun. After school you say to your buddies, “Hey, let’s meet up here at 5 o’clock,” and before you know it you’ve got 20 people playing. “

Blues & Wild Players to Watch

Saint Louis: Brandon Saad – The 2022 Winter Classic will be Saad’s fifth outdoor game. With 12 goals this season, Saad has the team’s second most goals and is expected to be a threat against the Wild at Target Field.

Minnesota: Kirill Kaprizov – With five goals and 11 points in eight games in December, β€œThe Thrill” will be looking to put on a show in the outdoor game.

Combinations of projected lines

St. Louis Blues

Left wing Center Right wing
Brandon saad Ryan o’reilly David Perron
Jordan kyrou Robert thomas Vladimir Tarasenko
Logan Brown Tyler bozak Pavel Boutchnevich
Klim Kostin Ivan barbachev Oskar Sundqvist
Left defense Right defense
Niko Mikkola Colton Parayko
Torey krug Justin faulk
Marco scandella Scott Perunovich
Starting goalkeeper
Jordan binnington

Minnesota Savage

Left wing Center Right wing
Krill kaprizov Ryan hartman Zuccarello carpet
Marcus Foligno FrΓ©dΓ©ric gaudreau Kevin Fiala
Jordan’s Green Lane Nico Sturm Brandon duhaime
Nick bjugstad Victor Rask Rem Potluck
Left defense Right defense
Jonas Brodin Matthew Dumba
Jon merrill Alex Goligoski
Jordie benn Dmitry Kulikov
Starting goalkeeper
Cam Talbot

The next match of the Blues: Wednesday January 5 at the Pittsburgh Penguins (6:30 p.m. CST)

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