Image: The Pink Puck

For an outdoor game in January, the BlackhawksBlues Winter Classic competition will be hot.

With the Hawks (51 points) in first place in the Western Conference and the Blues at third (43 points), both are determined to take two points home from the outing.

Ryan Reaves summed up the Blues perspective.

“As far as how tomorrow is going to be–it’s two points. It’s two teams that hate each other and have the added emotion of a game like this. Chicago fans are going to be flooding in today and tomorrow. I hope the Blues fans drown them out.”

The Blackhawks didn’t exactly mention hate, but they were passionate about giving it all, special event or not.

Captain Jonathan Toews talked strategy.

“We need those points. We know coming into St. Louis that they play well with their fans. We’ll be ready. We’ll try to get a good start and get the lead. We’d much rather start hard and play with a lead.”

 

The Blues’ fans were a talking point among the team.

“We’ll see,” Brian Campbell said. “They’ll be fired up with that crowd. But, playing with some [outdoor] experience obviously helps.”

Ryan Hartman, took everything in to prepare for his first outdoor game. He noted advice to not look into the sun and hoped the weather wouldn’t hold the game back.

“It’s a special one. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to forever.”

This will be the fourth of five matchups between the Blackhawks and Blues. For this season so far, Chicago is 2-1-0 while St. Louis is 1-1-1.

“It’s an intense series there,” Trevor van Riemsdyk said. “Just because it’s outside doesn’t mean it’s going to be easier.”

 

Some Blues-Blackhawks Fast Facts from the NHL:

  • The Blues will become the 23rd NHL team to participate in a regular-season outdoor game. The Blackhawks will be appearing in their fifth such contest (1-3-0), the most in the League, as well as their third Winter Classic (also 2009 and 2015).
  • Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews has scored the most points in NHL regular-season outdoor games (2-4–6 in 4 GP).
  • Road teams are 14-4-1 in outdoor games, including a 9-3-0 record since the start of the 2013-14
  • The 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will be the 21st regular-season outdoor NHL game, following eight Winter Classics, seven Stadium Series, four Heritage Classics and today’s 2017 Scotiabank NHL Centennial Classic (Detroit at Toronto).
  • The Blues will become the 23rd NHL team to participate in a regular-season outdoor game. The Blackhawks will be appearing in their fifth such contest (1-3-0), the most in the League, as well as their third Winter Classic (also 2009 and 2015).
  • The Blues and Blackhawks have competed in the same division every season since 1970-71, tied with the Bruins and Sabres for the longest active streak in the NHL. They have met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs at least once in each of the past five
  • The 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will mark the 305th all-time regular-season meeting between the Blues and Blackhawks. Chicago leads the all-time series, earning 337 points in the 304 contests (146-113-45). St. Louis has countered with 294 points (123-133-48).
  • The 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will mark the fourth of five contests between the Blues and Blackhawks in their 2016-17 season series (STL 1-1-1; CHI 2-1-0). In their final matchup before meeting outdoors, on Dec. 17, the Blackhawks scored three unanswered goals in the third period to win 6-4 and halt the Blues’ home point streak at 14
  • The Blues and Blackhawks have met 12 times in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with Chicago owning an 8-4 edge. The only franchise the Blues have faced more often in the postseason is the Dallas Stars (13 times), while the Blackhawks have only faced the Canadiens (17) and Red Wings (16) more
  • The Blackhawks qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for 28 consecutive seasons from 1969-70 through 1996-97, the second-longest such streak in NHL history. The Blues made the postseason for 25 straight years from 1979-80 through 2003-04, tied for the third-longest streak.
  • The first-ever playoff meeting between the Blues and Blackhawks occurred in 1973, a best-of- seven Quarterfinal. Chicago won the series 4-1, outscoring St. Louis 22-9.
  • The Blues and Blackhawks have met in the postseason twice in the past three years, with 10 of the 13 games decided by one goal. In 2014, Chicago rallied from a 0-2 series deficit to win in six games while the Blues prevailed in overtime of Game 7 in 2016.
  • The 2016 First Round Stanley Cup Playoff series between the Blues and Blackhawks, won by St. Louis in overtime of Game 7, was one of the most closely-contested in recent NHL history. Six of the seven games were decided by one goal and 91.3% of total playing time in the series saw the score tied or within one goal (412:48 of 452:11).
  • Current Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville owns franchise coaching records for both the Blackhawks and the Blues. He has guided the Blackhawks to a franchise-record three Stanley Cups and holds the Blues coaching records for career games (593) and wins (307).
  • The 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic is a matchup of the career wins leaders among active coaches, Chicago’s Joel Quenneville (1st active, 2nd all-time, 824) and St. Louis’ Ken Hitchcock (2nd active, 4th all-time, 776).
  • Five current Blackhawks players dressed for the club in its first Winter Classic appearance in 2009 against Detroit at Wrigley Field: Campbell, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and Toews.
  • While the Blues are making their outdoor debut, three players on their roster have appeared previously with other clubs: Robert Bortuzzo (for Pittsburgh in 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series), Jay Bouwmeester (for Calgary in 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic) and Carl Gunnarsson (for Toronto in 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic).

Updates

Thanks to weather concerns, the NHL will be announcing the Winter Classic game time at 7 a.m. CT Monday.

Carly Mullady grew up needing to know more about icing than its deliciousness on cupcakes. She's the lone daughter of four children, with a father who was among the last cut from the Midwest tryouts for the 1980 Miracle on Ice Olympic team. And she knows very little matches the thrill that happens from puck-drop to handshakes. A rink didn’t return to her hometown until she was gone, but she’s been able to see two younger brothers on the ice. She's their feistiest fan. Her other hockey loyalty lies with the Blackhawks--whether it's meant seeing games for $8 with student IDs when the Madhouse didn’t have much of a temper at all, or dancing to Chelsea Dagger at standing room only--there’s something magical about a roaring anthem, the Indianhead sweater, and the Original Six. A former journalist and current editor, she carries a penchant for excitement (and maybe even fighting) with a resume that includes working for Chicago-area newspapers, and television, including The Jerry Springer Show, as well as NBCUniversal in New York. After East Coast living and a return to the Chicago area, the new Mrs. is giving Graceland a go with her Southern Gent, who now shares her adoration of the game, and their rescue dog, Doc Holliday. Other interests include Cubs, Bears, Illini, Crimson Tide, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, baking a mean pineapple upside-down cake, Kate Spade accessories, and a properly coordinated cardigan for every ensemble.

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