Blues vs. Wild: The best player prop bets for the NHL Winter Classic
After a one-year hiatus, the NHL Winter Classic is back! Hockey’s premier outdoor event will take place at Target Field – home of the MLB’s Minnesota Twins – in bitter-cold temperatures on New Year’s Day.
The 2022 Winter Classic will be a battle for Central Division supremacy, as the St. Louis Blues take on the Minnesota Wild. The former leads the latter by one point in the standings following their Wednesday night victory over the Edmonton Oilers. The Wild have been idle since Dec. 20 due to the NHL’s COVID pause, but the break may have helped them, as they’re in the midst of a four-game losing streak.
Let’s stick with the goal scorer prop market, and identify the three players most likely to find the twine in this Saturday night affair.
Sun, January 2 2022, 12:00 AM
Ryan Hartman goal scorer
Ryan Hartman has been a revelation for the Wild this season, and his fine campaign should continue in the 2022 Winter Classic.
Hartman has yet to have a multi-goal game this year, instead scoring his team-leading 14 goals over 14 games.
His 14 goals scored over 30 games this year essentially translates to a coin-flip that he’ll score against the Blues on Saturday. And the odds prop bettors are getting on Hartman to score here are far more generous than that.
Vladimir Tarasenko goal scorer
After an uncharacteristically quiet November (three goals, seven assists), Vladimir Tarasenko woke up in December to the tune of six goals and seven assists, with four goals and two assists coming over his last four games.
He worked hard in that most recent span, mustering 13 shots, two of which resulted in game-winning goals. Tarasenko now turns his attention to a Minnesota team he’s not yet faced this season. However, the Wild give up 31.9 shots per game, ranking 23rd in the NHL.
Tarasenko should get his fair share of chances in this one, and when he does, he’s quite dangerous to opposing netminders.
It’s also worth noting that Tarasenko had two goals in the last Winter Classic he played in – against the Chicago Blackhawks in 2017 – a game in which the Blues won 4-1.
Those looking for a longshot goal-scorer in the Winter Classic could do worse than St. Louis defenseman Niko Mikkola.
Mikkola has suited up in 17 games this year, accounting for two goals on 23 shots, including a tally on Dec. 19. He’s seen increased usage from head coach Craig Berube, as he averaged over 19 minutes of ice time in December.
Mikkola plays a more stay-at-home type of game, but funny bounces are a part of what makes the Winter Classic unique, and that could be all Mikkola needs to pot a goal in this one.