The Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues have a date outside on January 2nd. The Blackhawks and Blues will play outdoors at the home of the St. Louis Cardinals, Busch Stadium. Yesterday we were spoiled with a thrilling edition of the Centennial Classic at BMO Field in Toronto. The Maple Leafs, who have hated 4-1 leads in the 3rd, nearly blew the same lead against the Detroit Red Wings. If you remember, the Leafs lost to the Bruins 5-4 in overtime after blowing a 4-1 lead in the 3rd. Well, it almost happened again, but Auston Matthews wasn’t a Leaf back then. Matthews took care of business, netting 2 nifty goals in an overtime win for the Leafs at BMO. The combo of Matthews, Mitch Marner is a pleasure to watch and they’re already emerging in their teens. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews know all about being the supporting cast as youngsters. If I am to draw any similarities to Matthews and Marner, it would be Kane and Toews. I am putting the rest of the NHL on watch, the Leafs are going to be for real soon.
The Blackhawks are for real, and have been for some time now. However, the Hawks went through their years of being silent. Remember the Eric Daze era in Chicago? No knock on Daze, he was a tremendous player who was underrated throughout his career. However, it wasn’t until Kane and Toews were drafted that this team began to take shape. The Blackhawks have played in several outdoors games, this is nothing new to them. For the city of St. Louis, though, this is a special occasion. They’ve had a tough 2016 with the Rams dipping town for Los Angeles, and the Blues have taken on an even bigger role in the city. The spotlight will be on St. Louis for a day, as they welcome the Blackhawks for what we hope is as entertaining as yesterday in Toronto. Let’s skip right to our pick for the 2017 NHL Winter Classic.
This is the fourth meeting of the year for the Blackhawks and Blues. They’ve become quite familiar with one another over the years. The Blackhawks have won the last two, with the Blues grabbing the first. It’s been like that between these two, as both sides have split their last ten games. There hasn’t been any budging, but overall, the Blackhawks, are clearly the victors due to the Stanley Cups’ banners they have hanging up in the rafters. The Hawks enter with a record of 23-11-5, while the Blues are 19-13-5. The Blues have been strong at home, posting a record of 14-3-4 in St. Louis. But this game is being played at Busch Stadium, not indoors at Scottrade Center.
The Hawks have been playing less than ideal hockey lately. Note that they are 1-3-1 in their last four games, including a mini goal scoring drought, with only 1.75 goals scored in their last three games. It appears that Jaden Schwartz is going to be unavailable for this game, as he has apparently come down with an illness. He is currently listed as questionable for the Winter Classic. Schwartz return to the lineup last year had a huge impact on them. The difference was night and day with him out of the lineup. The Blues are catching odds of -130 because of their impressive record at home. But like I said, the situation is a bit different here with it being the Winter Classic. I like the Blackhawks in this one, who are getting a favorable price on the ML.
PICK: BLACKHAWKS TO WIN +105