Blues, Wild bracing for below zero temperatures at 2022 Winter Classic

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Saturday’s 2022 NHL Winter Classic will bring the cold, and plenty of it.

When the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild hit the ice under the lights at Target Field in St. Paul, Minnesota, the temperature is expected to reach a high of -3 degrees Fahrenheit degrees for the 7 p.m. ET puck drop. That’s negative 3, which would make it the coldest outdoor game in league history.

The weather will be a drastic change from the  Winter Classic, which took place at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas in 2020. That afternoon’s game between the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators featured a 54-degree temperature at puck drop.

Fans inside Target Field will need to be prepared for the arctic temperatures, but they’ll have some help. The NHL will give out 40,000 hand-warmers and you can imagine there will be more than enough blankets, sweatshirts, and winter hats available at the merchandise stands.

Adjusting to the cold

Brandon Duhaime of the Wild grew up in South Florida and has never played in an outdoor game. His family and friends have seen the forecast for Saturday night and are concerned for the rookie winger.

“I’ve seen the tweets. Everyone is kind of blowing me up about it,” Duhaime said earlier this week. “My mom, my girlfriend and my sister are panicking about it and they’re kind of stressing me out about how cold it’s going to be. But everyone is going to be playing in the same conditions about it and they’re texting me about how cold it’s going to be.”

Duhaime played junior hockey in Canada and went to college at Providence in Rhode Island, so he knows what winter delivers.

“[My family] moved down to Florida to get out of that weather,” he said. “My mom hates the cold. She keeps it at 76 degrees in the house. She’ll have to battle for those three or four hours or so.”

The Blues-Wild Winter Classic will be the NHL’s 33rd modern outdoor game. The 2003 Heritage Classic between the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton saw a 0-degree temperature at face-off. Frigid weather was also experienced during the 2014 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium and the NHL Centennial Classic in Ottawa in 2017 (both 13 degrees). Target Field will showcase weather that could “be same cold as in Siberia,” according to Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko, who grew up in the region in Russia.

Outdoor games are always interesting for goaltenders. Not only do they have to adjust to the sight-lines depending on if the game is in a baseball or or football stadium, but they have to manage how much layering they need under their equipment depending on the conditions.

Jose Theodore’s toque is a big NHL outdoor game memory, but Jordan Binnington and Cam Talbot will likely need more than a winter hat to feel comfortable. While this will be Binnington’s first, Talbot has been involved in six of these, starting two of them.

“I try not to add too much,” Talbot said. ”You’re out there sweating enough, and hopefully it’s not too windy. That makes it a little bit worse. Obviously, if it’s windy, we’ll see if we have to do anything. But as far as that, I try not to change too much of what I normally wear.”

The Blues netminder, meanwhile, is eager to see what it’s like to play outside. 

”Just trying to take a couple cold tubs leading up to the game, hopefully it will build that up a little bit,” Binnington said. “It’s going to be interesting. I don’t know what to expect. I see how cold it’s going to be, but I don’t know how cold it will feel. We’re going to do our part gearing up and do the best we can to be ready for it.”

Central Division implications

The Blues and Wild are the top two teams in the Central Division, separated by a single point. Should Minnesota get the win at home, they’ll leap St. Louis into the No. 1 spot. So while any outdoor game is a memorable experience players and coaches, there’s still a lot of value in getting a result.

While the Blues are coming off a 4-2 win Wednesday night over the Oilers, the Winter Classic will be the Wild’s first game since Dec. 20, a 7-4 loss to Dallas, extending their four-game winless streak.

A win in a big game at home could go a long way to jump-starting the team as a new year begins.

“That’s not acceptable,” said Wild forward Mats Zuccarello of the 0-3-1 record in their last four games. “We’ve got to get on a winning pace here. For us it’s a big game against a good team. We let everyone around soak it in and enjoy it, but for us it’s a big game.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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    Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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    BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

    The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

    “That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

    Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

    “It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

    In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

    “It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

    Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

    In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

    “We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

    Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

    Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

    Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

    Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

    Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

    TAKE NOTE

    The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

    Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

    UP NEXT

    Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

    Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

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    NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

    Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

    The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

    Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

    “We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

    Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

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    The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

    Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

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    ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

    Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

    The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

    Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

    Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

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    TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

    Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

    Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

    Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

    Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.