Outdoor hockey has not been too kind to the Blackhawks. In four games, Chicago is just 1-3 with no wins when playing in baseball or football stadiums — as will be the case for the 2017 Winter Classic on Monday.
The Blackhawks will face the Blues in a division rival matchup at Busch Stadium in St. Louis to kick off the new year. The game is supposed to begin at noon CT, which the league confirmed at 7 a.m. this morning after reviewing weather for the day. The forecast includes rain, which could potentially create some problems.
It’s the fourth meeting between the teams this season, with Chicago currently holding a 2-1 edge in the series and seemingly getting stronger each time these two meet.
Last time out, the Hawks and Blues put on an offensive showcase in arguably one of the most entertaining games this year. Chicago emerged with a 6-4 victory in St. Louis to extend its all-time series lead to 180–141–35–10. More recently this rivalry has intensified with the Blues developing into Stanley Cup contenders and clashing with the Hawks in a few postseason matchups.
In 2014, Chicago bounced the Blues in the first round of the playoffs in six games. St. Louis returned the favor in 2016, defeating the defending Stanley Cup champions in seven games.
One of the keys to the Blues’ success against Chicago is 25-year-old winger Vladimir Tarasenko. The Russian has 11 points (seven goals, four assists) in his last eight regular season games against the Hawks and seems uncontainable each time he faces them.
Chicago has been trying to fight fire with fire lately, with its own young Russian winger filling up the score sheet against St. Louis. Artemi Panarin has eight points (four goals, four assists) in his last eight regular season games against the Blues. The rivalry is increasingly becoming a battle between the budding stars and good friends, which will certainly be the case when the two teams get the national spotlight in the Winter Classic.
After signing a two-year, $12 million contract extension — and essentially betting on himself by taking a bridge deal — Panarin is already out to prove he’s worth way more than he’s already earning. On the biggest regular season stage of the season, he’ll get his latest chance.
For what it’s worth, the Cubs are 42-56 at Busch Stadium, but if last two seasons are any indication, this Chicago team won’t be intimated playing there.
How to watch the 2017 Winter Classic
Time: Noon CT
Location: Busch Stadium, St. Louis
Announcers: Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, Pierre McGuire, Jeremy Roenick
Live Stream: NBC Sports