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2017 Winter Classic Preview

The Blues are set to take the ice at some point today.

2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic - Practice Day & Family Skate Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images

Let’s get this out of the way first. Yes, the Blackhawks have now been in five outdoor games, and have hosted two. Yes, that’s kind of excessive, even for the league’s marquee money making franchise.

But really, seriously, what other team would you have the Blues play? They’ve been in the same division since the 1970-1971 season, longer than any two teams in the league have been in the same division (other than the Bruins and Sabres). The Blues exist partially because the Wirtz family needed a use for the Arena. The two teams absolutely despise each other, and while the Hawks hold the edge in both regular season and playoff play over the last fifty years, that hasn’t stopped the Blues from playing them harder than they do any other opponent.

So yes, the Hawks play in a lot of these sorts of games. The Blues don’t. Let’s just enjoy the fact that our team is finally here.

An upside today is that the Hawks are 1-3-0 so far in outdoor games. A downside is that the road teams are 14-4-1 in games not played inside of a hockey arena.

Another downside is that the Blues have been unpredictable at best this year. They play stellar at home (we will pretend Friday night did not happen), but their road record exposes cracks in the armor that are very uncharacteristic for Ken Hitchcock coached teams.

For example, the Blues are dead last in team save percentage in the league. This is bad. The fact that they’re middle of the pack in goals scored is a slight redemption. But just slight. The Blackhawks have scored just three more goals than the Blues, but the Blues allow 2.95 goals a game versus the Hawks’ 2.38.

Let’s just say it’s by grace of some higher power that the Blues are still in a playoff spot.

But let’s leave that all behind and just enjoy today, huh? Let’s soak in the atmosphere, let’s enjoy Busch Stadium in January, and let’s just be happy that the Blues are now an important enough team and successful enough franchise to be awarded the NHL’s marquee event.

Let’s put on a good show, rain, shine, or whatever happens. If you’re not near a TV or inside Busch Stadium, you can catch the game on the NBC Sports Live Extra app or on NBC’s website right here.