I may say this every month but the St. Louis Blues have many notable games to watch in the month of January. They’ll play some of the best Eastern Conference teams, divisional foes, the newest expansion team, and more.
Minnesota Wild – Jan. 1 (Winter Classic)
This is obviously the marquee matchup of the month for the Blues. They’ll travel to the freezing cold temperatures of Minneapolis and take on the Wild at Target Field. This is the first matchup between these two teams this season, coming after them playing each other eight times last season.
This is the first Winter Classic for the league since the 2020 rendition in Texas between two other Central division foes with the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars. The temperatures will likely be around minus-21 Fahrenheit when the puck drops, so anything goes in this one.
The Blues are first in the Central with 41 points in 32 games, while the Wild are second with 40 points in 30 games. I’m excited to see the Blues’ change of style and transition game compete with a skilled team with speed like the Wild. This will be a tremendous way to kick off a brand new calendar year for hockey.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Jan. 5
The Penguins have a lot of key players missing right now but they’re still a good team this season. It’s always fun to watch the Blues take on an elite player like Sidney Crosby, who’s been one of the league’s biggest stars for over a decade. He is one of the all-time great players in league history, and there is no debating that.
These teams have played some close and good games over the last six seasons, with the Blues leading the all-time series with five wins to the Penguins’ four over that period. Their last matchup was during the suspended 2019-20 season, the Penguins won that matchup 3-0.
This matchup will be at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, while their next matchup is in late March at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis. I’m excited to see the Blues’ ability to defend in this game, they should be able to do some damage with some of the major pieces that the Pens could be without.
Washington Capitals – Jan. 7
Another all-time great player and elite Eastern Conference team will match up with the Blues this month, it’s Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals. The Capitals currently lead the loaded Metropolitan Division with a record of 19-6-7 and 45 points. Ovechkin is having another dominant season with 22 goals and 26 assists for 48 points in 32 games played.
As for the all-time series, the Capitals have won six of eight over the Blues dating back to the 2015-16 season but the Blues have won two of the last three. In the Ovechkin era, the Blues are 8-9-3, which is not as bad as expected given how these teams have shifted over the years. These teams have a lot in common, in more ways than one.
This will be a huge test for the Blues, an uncommon opponent and a team with tons of chemistry that is rolling. Hopefully, the Blues can continue to pick up steam and roll into this game feeling good about their season.
Seattle Kraken – Jan. 13 & 21
The Kraken have certainly had their struggles in their inaugural season, which is to be expected. The first season for the Vegas Golden Knights was a rarity and likely won’t happen like that again. Expansion teams are expected to struggle, this is nowhere near out of the ordinary for the NHL.
The Blues will play the Kraken twice this month, the first one being a home game and the second one being the first matchup in Seattle for the Blues. They’ll get to see a couple of former Blues, with Jaden Schwartz and Vince Dunn both having solid seasons on a struggling team.
The Kraken have struggled to defend and they are near the bottom of the league in goals against, ranking 30th overall. The Blues should be able to overpower them with their depth and chemistry. Depth and chemistry are a clear problem for expansion teams, it’s no different for the Kraken.
It’s always nice to play a brand new NHL team for the first time, and the Blues liked doing so with the Golden Knights. They went nine games without a regulation loss to Vegas, which was difficult to do with how good they were. Something tells me that it will be different with the Kraken.
Other Notable Games in January
The Blues will likely have two meetings with another conference contender, the Calgary Flames, as a home-and-home set is scheduled to take place. They’ll also play the Chicago Blackhawks for the third time this season, looking to avenge their November overtime loss. The month of January will be difficult for the Blues, but I trust they will play well.
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Ethan Carter has been writing at The Hockey Writers for over three years now. He also co-hosts The Blue Note Podcast for the Bleav Network, which covers the Blues and the NHL multiple times per week.