For now, the Winter Classic in Minnesota between the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild remains on. But fans and gamblers will be holding their breath until the puck drop. The NHL has dumped a cargo ship worth of games off the board for the past two weeks because of Omicron. Canada and the United States have different protocols for the variant, which has thrown a monkey wrench into the NHL schedule and the future. It also doesn’t help that the NHLPA wags the dog in pro hockey. It’s no coincidence that the NHLPA got an extended vacation tacked on to the thoughtless Christmas Break in which the NHL surrenders the day to the NBA. Omicron made the perfect excuse to let the players sulk and pout about losing the Olympic Break for a few extra days. The NHL plans to make up lost games at that time instead.
The Minnesota Wild will host the St. Louis Blues at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This game will take place on Sunday, January 1, 2022, at 7 p.m. ET with television coverage on TNT.
NHL Betting at BookMaker.eu
Winter Classic Odds Analysis
Betting action will be split evenly between these two teams. Minnesota leads the Central Division by one point over the Blues. Both teams are in excellent form heading into this game.
Casual gamblers are familiar with the Blues based on their 2019 Stanley Cup championship. Further, the Blues have been in existence since 1967. St. Louis has been a perennial contender most of their time in the NHL from the start. Thus, they are one of the NHL’s true name-brand franchises.
Minnesota is a favorite of sharps for the opposite reason. The Wild operate in relative anonymity but are a top-tier Stanley Cup contender. Most squares couldn’t name a player on the Wild. But Minnesota has improved itself in every way. It also helps that the Wild have evolved from their old paint dry neutral zone trap days. Minnesota management openly admitted that the team played a boring style. But not anymore. If the winning continues, more gamblers will be attracted.
St. Louis Blues
St. Louis brings a record of 17-9-5 with 14-15 under the total. The Blues have won eight of their last ten games. Only one of their previous six games went over the total. NHL metrics show St. Louis ranked 7th for goal scoring, 11th for power play efficiency, 11th for goals against, and 8th for penalty killing.
This past summer, right-winger Vladimir Tarasenko was on the trading block. That is no longer the case. Tarasenko has a team-best 12 goals to go with 17 assists. The longtime St. Louis fan favorite is electrifying crowds as he did in the past.
Minnesota stands at 19-9-2 and is 9-11 over the total. The Wild are 6-3-1 in their last ten games and are 3-2 over the total in their most recent five outings. NHL metrics show Minnesota ranked 2nd for goal scoring, 21st for power play efficiency, 19th for goals against, and 12th for penalty killing.
In the spring of 2020, the Wild shockingly fired popular head coach Bruce Boudreau and replaced him with Minnesota’s top assistant coach Dean Evason. What made the move even more shocking was that Minnesota played well when Boudreau was canned. But the then-new general manager Bill Guerin did not hire Boudreau, giving the coach little margin for error. As it turned out, Evason has elevated Minnesota’s record and offensive production. However, the once-tight Wild defense is a lot looser than in the past.
The man to watch on the Wild is right wing, Ryan Hartman. So far, Hartman has 14 goals, 12 assists, and a stellar +22.
St. Louis vs. Minnesota Prediction
In sum, St. Louis is 10-3 vs. Minnesota. The Blues and Wild are 4-1 over/under the total.
The public will be on the home team Minnesota. St. Louis is a quality road team, a favorite betting angle value of Wise Guys.
BookMaker Pick: St. Louis Blues
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