The 2017 NHL Winter Classic is scheduled to take place this afternoon as the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues prepare to battle it out from Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. Today’s game will be the second in two days that will be played outdoors – the first occurring yesterday in Toronto where the Red Wings defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs from BMO Stadium in Toronto.
WGN indicates the Blackhawks will take on their greatest opposition of late, the St. Louis Blues, at 1 p.m. ET in their fifth regular season outdoor game and their third Winter Classic. If the Hawks lose today, they may want to try to get out of playing in this annual NHL event.
Chicago is 1-3-0 when they lace up the skates for an outdoor matchup, however, with a win today they can increase their lead over the surging Minnesota Wild.
The Blackhawks currently lead the Central Division in the Western Conference by one point over the Wild and by eight points over the third place St. Louis Blues. Chicago currently leads the season series 2-1 over St. Louis, with the latest game going to the Blackhawks 6-4 on Dec. 17 in St. Louis.
To say these two don’t like each other would be an understatement.
Every matchup between these two clubs is hard fought and seems to come down to the very end to decide the winner. Last season, the Hawks lost in the first-round of the NHL postseason to St. Louis in a tough seven-game series. The series defeat not only sent Chicago home early, but it also ruined the Blackhawks’ chances of repeating as Stanley Cup Champions.
While the Blues have struggled a bit in their last 10 games, the atmosphere for this game will rival a postseason clash.
This NHL Winter Classic has all of the appearances of an instant classic, and not just on the ice, but off as well.
The backdrop for the rink looks incredible!
As the tweet above shows from ESPN’s Joe McDonald, the Busch Stadium field will be turned into a winter wonderland with a Hard Rock Café guitar being the center of attention. On each side of the guitar will be each team’s logo, wrapped around musical notes that will cross in the area which is the outfield during St. Louis Cardinals home games.
Also, both goalies will be paying tributes to each of their home city baseball teams.
CBS Sports indicates Chicago goaltender Scott Darling is planning to wear a Cubs-themed mask, which features Anthony Rizzo and a tip of the cap to the Cubs 2016 World Series title, while St Louis net-minder Carter Hutton will wear a Cardinals-themed mask that includes many of the team’s all-time greats, such as Bob Gibson and Lou Brock, and Ozzie Smith on the back. Smith is portrayed doing one of his classic back-flips on the mask, something that became a tradition in St. Louis during every Cardinals game.
That isn’t just a great move by the goalies for hockey, but it is great for sports in general!
Las Vegas odds makers have the St. Louis Blues listed as a -140, with the over/under goal total set at 5.5.
Today’s NHL Winter Classic between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues will air live nationally on NBC starting at 1 p.m. ET. Fans will also be able to see every moment of the NHL classic streaming live online through NBC Sports Extra. If you are on the go, you can still catch every second live on your tablet, smart phone or any device by downloading the NBC Sports App.
[Featured Image by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images]