Blues turn attention to Winter Classic showdown with Wild

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ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Blues can now turn their attention to the 2022 Discover NHL Winter Classic.

After a 4-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers at Enterprise Center on Wednesday, the Blues (18-9-5) are squarely focused on the League’s showcase game against the Minnesota Wild (19-9-2) Saturday at Target Field in Minneapolis (7 p.m. ET; TNT, SN1, TVAS, NHL LIVE).

“I had two with (the) Boston (Bruins) and then I played one in college at the University of Michigan. It’s always fun, it really is,” Blues defenseman Torey Krug said Wednesday after getting two assists against the Oilers. “To get out there, it’s a bonding experience with your teammates and you all go through the same thing, the different elements, the unexpected. It’s a fun game to play in. 

“You always have family, friends keeping an eye on the game whether they’re there in person or at home watching. It just makes for a great day and, obviously, a great way to celebrate the new year. So definitely exciting.”

For Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko, who had a goal and two assists against Edmonton to give him 32 points (13 goals, 19 assists) in 32 games this season, it will be his second experience. 

Tarasenko played in the 2017 Bridgestone Winter Classic at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The Blues defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 on Jan. 2, 2017.

“It will be cool to play in Minnesota,” Tarasenko said. “Outdoor game here was a lot of fun at home. We play away now. … I guess we will have fun there. Not many teams have chances to play there, and this is my second time [at a Winter Classic]. I’m really looking forward to it, even if it’s going to be same cold as in Siberia.”

Blues coach Craig Berube, who became the seventh coach in NHL history to win 200 games after playing in 1,000 games or more on Wednesday, was impressed with his team’s ability to focus and defeat Edmonton despite the anticipation of an outdoor game.

“You’re never sure I guess before but I really liked our first period,” Berube said. “I knew we were dialed in, and our team was ready to compete and do the right things, so it was good to see.”

Blues forward Robert Thomas will be playing in his first NHL outdoor game; however, he did play outdoors for Canada at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship with forward Jordan Kyrou. St. Louis defenseman Scott Perunovich played against them in the United States’ 4-3 shootout win on Dec. 29, 2017, at New Era Field (now Highmark Stadium) in Orchard Park, New York.

“Those games are always fun. It’s awesome,” Thomas said Wednesday after scoring against the Oilers. “Everyone has their families in town. For the fans, it’s a really cool experience. My first one was pretty interesting. I don’t think it was as cold as this one is going to be, but we had a lot more snow. They’re always fun games. The style of play is a little bit different, but it’s fun to adjust and to play in those games.”

Kyrou, who had a goal and two assists Wednesday, is also looking forward to it.

“I’m super excited,” Kyrou said. “I played an outdoor game with ‘Tommer’ at the World Juniors and it was a cool experience. The hockey was a little tough to play but I’m sure it’ll be a lot better on in the NHL, so I’m super excited to play that outdoor game.”

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