Minnesota Wild vs. St. Louis Blues - 12/31/13
St. Louis Blues (26-7-5) at Minnesota Wild (20-16-5)
NHL Hockey: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 6:00 pm (Xcel Energy Center)
The Line: Minnesota Wild +114 / St. Louis Blues -126 --- Over/Under: 5 See the Latest Odds
TV: FS-MW, FS-N
The Minnesota Wild will look for revenge against the division rival St. Louis Blues on Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center.
The Blues are among the NHL’s elite, currently sitting in second place in a stacked Western Conference. The Blues battled the rival Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night and started slow, playing from behind the entire game. However, St. Louis played it down to the wire and came away with a shootout victory. It should be noted that the Blues are now 3-0 on the season against the defending Stanley Cup Champions. The Blues turned around and traveled to Dallas to play the Stars on Sunday. The Stars gave the Blues a hard fought match, only to fall 3-2 in the final seconds of overtime when Kevin Shattenkirk scored a power play goal to win the game for the Blues. With the victories over Chicago and Dallas, the Blues remain unbeaten against the Central Division of the Western Conference at 12-0-1.
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The Wild have come up short in each of the last five games, four of which were lost by two or more goals. Minnesota is 5-11-1 in its last 16, and has fallen out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. While enduring recent struggles, the Minnesota Wild retain one of the toughest home ice advantages in the NHL. At Xcel Energy Center, the Wild have a record of 14-4-2, which ranks among the league’s best in terms of home wins. Minnesota will be missing Zach Parise, who is second on the team in goals and will be sidelined with a lower body injury. For a club that ranks 29th in the NHL in goals per game at 2.2 per contest, missing a player of Parise’s caliber is detrimental.
The Blues are 6-0 in the last six meetings between the two clubs, including a 3-0 St. Louis victory at the end of November at the Scott Trade Center in St. Louis. In that game, Alexander Steen scored two goals, but the Blues are still without Steen, who is the team’s leading scorer. To boot, the Blues lost captain David Backes to an upper body injury that was sustained in the game against the Hawks on Saturday. Missing these players is no doubt a blow to the Blues, but the club has shown its depth and received offensive contributions from players like Jaden Schwartz. St. Louis has dominated the series with Minnesota, and I don’t see the Wild producing enough offense to come away victorious.