The NHL Winter Classic is back in our lives this year with a fun matchup between the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues. The game, which was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will go on as scheduled at Target Field in Minneapolis where the weather is expected to wreak some havoc on the ice with bitter cold in the forecast. But that should make the game all the more intriguing between two of the top teams in the Western Conference.
The Wild enter the game having not played since Dec. 20. When the NHL decided to have a short pause during the league's holiday break, the Wild had lost four consecutive games and surrendered 18 goals during that stretch. Their most recent loss came in a 7-4 defeat at the hands of the Dallas Stars in which the Wild gave up three goals in the third period. Still, they have had a strong season thus far with 40 points to their credit and trail the Blues by just a single point in the Central Division.
Meanwhile, the Blues returned to the ice on Wednesday and came away with a 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Prior to the shutdown, the Blues were one of the hottest teams in the league with six wins in their last eight contests. During that stretch, St. Louis defeated impressive teams like the Stars and Florida Panthers. After his fair share of struggles throughout the first half of the season, goaltender Jordan Binnington bounced back with a 26-save performance against the Oilers in which he surrendered just two goals against one of the league's most dangerous offensive units.
The Blues and Wild have yet to face off this season, but the Blues put together an impressive 6-2 record against the Wild during the 2020-21 campaign. During those eight games, St. Louis outscored Minnesota 35-19, including three of those victories coming by at least four goals.
Blues vs. Wild: Need to know
This could be a high-scoring affair: These are two of the highest-scoring teams in the entire NHL. The Wild rank fourth in goals scored (3.6 goals per game) while the Blues rank fifth (3.4 goals per game). In addition, the Blues have been sensational on the power play this season as they're converting 29.3% of their opportunities, which is good for third in the NHL. With the Wild having not played in nearly two weeks, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Blues net a couple of early goals.
Host team has only won four Winter Classics: Since the NHL began holding the Winter Classic, the host team is just 4-10. The Stars came away with a 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators at the Cotton Bowl in 2020, but a home team hadn't won since the Blues defeated the Chicago Blackhawks at Busch Stadium in 2017.
Brutal temperatures expected: The 2022 Winter Classic could be the coldest outdoors game in NHL history. Currently, the current forecast is calling for a high temperature of -3 degrees and a low of -9 when the puck is dropped. The previous coldest NHL outdoor game was the 2003 Heritage Classic between the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton. During that contest, the temperature was -1 degrees when the puck was dropped.
Officials are ready for these frigid conditions as the penalty box will feature hot seats and the ice will be heated. Target Field has radiant heat in many areas of the stadium and the Twins have even added radiant heat by the concession stands for its workers. Speaking of the concession stands, Target Field will be serving items such as soup, chili, and ramen in an effort to keep fans warm.
How to watch the Winter Classic live
Game: St. Louis Blues vs. Minnesota Wild -- Winter Classic
Date: Saturday, Jan. 1 | Time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Target Field -- Minneapolis
TV: TNT | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
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