Question 1: I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Blackhawks win, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if they lose. Just based on recent outdoor performances and the idea the Blues should be wildly overmotivated, I’m guessing St. Louis walks out of Busch Stadium with a win.
The Blackhawks will probably forget to cover Vladimir Tarasenko again, leading to him scoring once and netting an assist. Alexander Steen annoys with random goals, so I’ll tab him for one. And a defenseman — Kevin Shattenkirk or Colton Parayko — will hammered one home from the blue line through traffic.
Chicago will put up a good fight, definitely better than the non-fight they displayed last year against Minnesota. Artemi Panarin and Ryan Hartman will dent the twine, but the Blackhawks will be chasing throughout against a Blues.
If the Blackhawks can take advantage of penalties the Blues will obviously commit while being overhyped for their first outdoor game, the result may change. Otherwise, St. Louis wins 3-2.
Question 2: The league has made an outdoor game happen in Los Angeles, so let’s do one in Texas.
I’ve been to a couple Blackhawks-Stars games in Dallas, and the crowd was pretty excellent both times. If Dallas finally figures out it needs a goaltender next season, the Stars could be a team to contend with. Regardless, this would be a Central Division showdown between two teams with a slowly re-budding rivalry (dating back to Blackhawks-North Stars).
Take this act to arguably the gaudiest stadium in the United States: the Jerry Dome, AKA AT&T Stadium, AKA the home of the Dallas Cowboys. It has a retractable roof, so no trouble going outdoors there. This would be a pretty grand stage as far as size, and it’d bring outdoor hockey to a location you know hasn’t seen it.
Question 1: I’m going with the Blackhawks in a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues at Busch Stadium. It looks to be on the warmer side in St. Louis come day after New Year’s Day, so the cold shouldn’t affect any potential return from injury by Artem Anisimov, and Corey Crawford should be fully recovered by that time.
If that is the case, then the Blackhawks could be at full-strength against the Blues. If the Blackhawks can contain Vladimir Tarasenko, they’ve got a great chance.
Question 2: I DO NOT WANT THE BLACKHAWKS TO PLAY OUTDOORS IN 2017-18.
But if they have to, let’s get crazy. Blackhawks-Red Wings on Lake Michigan. Make it a huge project — block off a section of the lake to assure a flat surface. Build a solid bridge and pillar system to support seating for fans. Have an ice-fishing village on the lake, too.
Build a walkway from Navy Pier to the “Ice Arena” and build the fan village on the lakefront. The Alumni Game can be played on a frozen section of the polar bear exhibit at the Shedd Aquarium. If these things can’t be done, then it’s not worth it.