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2022 NHL Winter Classic preview

Get ready for some pond hockey

2022 Discover NHL Winter Classic - Practice Sessions & Family Skate Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images

Remarkably, tonight’s NHL Winter Classic is the first time that the league has held one at night. Stadium Series games were held during the evening, but after the debacle of the Lake Tahoe games in February, where the sun made it impossible to play, the league has scheduled this one for a 6 PM puck drop. Also playing a factor in the late scheduling is, more than likely, the broadcast partner. Traditionally broadcast on NBC during the day on a slow entertainment day, the Winter Classic is now on TNT, who more than likely don’t want to break up their mini-Marvel movie marathon on a day where people need to sit around and chill.

Speaking of chill, I’m sure that you’ve noticed that the forecast for tonight is going to be cold. It’ll be below zero all day, and once the sun dips, it will be double digits below zero. The league’s having to heat the ice to keep it from cracking, and the bench areas should have heaters on full blast for both teams. As Vladimir Tarasenko said,

“Not many teams have a chance to play (in the Winter Classic), and this is my second time,” Tarasenko said. “So I’m really looking forward to it, even if it is same cold as in Siberia.”

Both teams have been battling for a chance to rule the roost in the Central Division. Right now, the Blues are in first place by one point over the Wild and the surprising Nashville Predators. They’ve fought through countless injuries and players with Covid. to get there. Tonight, the team should be at full-ish strength.

The Wild haven’t played a game since December 20th, thanks to the extended Christmas break, and they finished those games out on a four game losing streak. It won’t help the Wild that Jared Spurgeon and Joel Eriksson Ek are out with injuries, and Jonas Brodin has been on the Covid-19 protocol. Brodin is a maybe for tonight’s game - with the shortened isolation time, he’s eligible to return, but with the NHL’s new covid protocols, you still need to be cleared by team doctors to return.

Today’s a blast for players, coaches, and their families, but when it comes down to it, it’s all about two points. The Blues nabbed two on Wednesday to leapfrog the Wild. Can they put more distance between themselves and second place today?