Preview: Blackhawks at Blues

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[January 02, 2017]  The St. Louis Blues finally get an opportunity to host their first outdoor game when the arch-rival Chicago Blackhawks pay a visit Monday afternoon for the Winter Classic at Busch Stadium. The forecast calls for warmer temperatures and a chance of rain as the Blues become the 11th team to play in the annual contest while the Blackhawks are 0-2-0 in their Winter Classic appearances in 2009 and 2015.

Injured defenseman Robert Bortuzzo is the only St. Louis player to participate in an outdoor game before, so the Blues will be ready to enjoy their first spectacle as they go after an important two points. “You put it on your bucket list once they start doing those outdoor games,” St. Louis center Paul Stastny told reporters. “But to be able to host a Winter Classic, it’s not even a dream, you don’t even think about stuff like that.” The Blues come in after a 6-6-2 month of December while the Blackhawks, who have won two of the previous three meetings this season, struggled of late with four losses in their last five games (1-3-1). “We (need to get) on the winning trend again,” said Chicago captain Jonathan Toews, who has two goals and four assists in four NHL outdoor games (two Winter Classics, two Stadium series).

TV: 1 p.m. ET, NBC, Sportsnet, TVAS

ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (23-11-5): Chicago, which lost at Minnesota 6-1 in a Stadium Series game last March, has a one-point lead atop the Central Division despite its recent struggles that included a 3-2 loss at Carolina on Friday. Artemi Panarin leads the team with 38 points after recording 15 in the last 10 contests and Patrick Kane boasts nine in an eight-game stretch to stand at 37 overall - giving the Blackhawks one of the best one-two punches in the league. Veteran Marian Hossa (upper-body), who shares the team lead with fellow forward Artem Anisimov at 16 goals, is not expected to play.

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 ABOUT THE BLUES (19-13-5): St. Louis finished an up-and-down month with a 4-0 loss to Nashville at home. “If we expect to win on a regular basis, we’re going to have to be way better five-on-five than the way we’re playing right now,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told reporters. “We’re sitting there relying on our power play, relying on our penalty kill to win hockey games. We just have to create more. … give up less.” Vladimir Tarasenko, who joins Panarin and Kane among the league scoring leaders with 39 points, scored 10 goals in 18 career regular-season games versus Chicago.


1. Blues Fs Jaden Schwartz and Nail Yakupov missed practice Sunday because of illness, but Hitchcock told reporters he is hopeful both will play Monday.

2. Chicago D Duncan Keith came into Sunday third in the NHL among blue liners with 24 assists and is two shy of 400 for his career.

3. St. Louis G Jake Allen suffered through a difficult December, going 5-6-0 with a .892 save percentage.

PREDICTION: Blackhawks 4, Blues 2

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