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NHL on NBC: ‘Hawks, Blues do battle in Winter Classic at Busch Stadium

Today is the day the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues go head-to-head in the 2017 Winter Classic at Busch Stadium. You can catch the game on NBC or you can watch it online by clicking here.

As of right now, the game is expected to start at 1:00 p.m. ET, but that can change depending on the ice conditions. A full weather update is available here.

Heading into this afternoon’s game, the Blackhawks sit at the top of the Central Division standings with 51 points in 39 games. The Minnesota Wild are one point behind the ‘Hawks, but they also have three games in hand. As for the Blues, they currently sit in third place with 43 points in 37 games.

This is a perfect opportunity for the Blues to start closing the gap between themselves and one of their biggest rivals.

“Aside from all this hype, being outside and all that, it’s a big game for us against the division team,” Blues forward Robby Fabbri said, per NHL.com. “We’ve got to start stringing some wins together here in the second half, and we’ve got to start with this one.”

The Blues are hoping that forwards Jaden Schwartz and Nail Yakupov will be available for the game. Both players are dealing with illnesses.

As for the Blackhawks, we already know that they’ve ruled out two key forwards for this game, as both Marian Hossa and Marcus Kruger are out with upper-body injuries. Hossa could be back as early as Thursday, while Kruger is expected to be out for three weeks.

The ‘Hawks come into this game in a bit of a funk. They closed out 2016 with a 3-2 loss in Carolina, and they’ve dropped four of their last five contests.

“With the way things are going with us lately regardless, we need those points,” Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews said. “We need to have a big game against this team. They’re going to play really well in front of their own fans. Just add to the fact we’re on a big stage and they’re going to be excited to take advantage of this opportunity. They’ll be ready and we’ve got to be ready at this point.”

This will already be the fourth meeting between these two teams. St. Louis won the first game on opening night by a score of 3-2, but Chicago beat them 2-1 in OT on Nov. 9, and 6-4 on Dec. 17 (both games were in St. Louis).

 

Fight video: Flyers’ Manning vs. Penguins’ Gaunce

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Breaking: the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers don’t like each other.

The stakes might be higher for the Penguins than the Flyers – aside from those who still believe Philly has a shot at a playoff run – their rivalry rarely subsides.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Sunday featured at least one fight, with Cameron Gaunce squaring off against Brandon Manning in a pretty spirited bout.

Manning isn’t shy about fighting, by the way; this was his seventh bout of the season, according to Hockey Fights.

Higher on the radar for the Penguins is the situation for Conor Sheary, who has been absent from the ice since about midway through the first period. PHT will keep an eye out for updates on what could be yet another injury for the health-challenged Pens.

Dreading the work week? Watch this dog get ‘ice time’ with puck

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Life is difficult, complex and confusing. Good thing we have dog videos.

Forgive this video being one night late, but for those of us who watch cute animal clips, time is a furry circle. Or something like that.

Anyway, this golden retriever got a little “ice time” before the Washington Capitals’ game against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday in what would end up being a 4-1 win for the Caps. It’s an excellent video featuring a top-notch, hilarious pooch.

Alternate joke: Now that is some puck retrieval.

Patrik Laine’s out sick for Jets on Sunday

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Patrik Laine and Auston Matthews are locked with identical goals (34), assists (27) and points (61) on Sunday, which is remarkable since Laine has played in 67 games versus 75 for Matthews. He won’t get a chance to beef up his numbers on Sunday, either.

It looks like the high-scoring rookie is missing the Winnipeg Jets’ contest against the Vancouver Canucks because of an illness, according to TSN’s Sara Orlesky.

The Jets are almost assured to miss the playoffs, so seeing Laine lose a chance to bolster his Calder argument adds a little extra sadness to the night.

NHL schedules hearing for Micheal Haley’s sucker-punch on Calle Jarnkrok

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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced a Monday hearing for San Jose Sharks tough guy Micheal Haley for his “roughing/sucker punch” on Calle Jarnkrok of the Nashville Predators.

The league didn’t specify if Haley will face a telephone or in-person hearing on Monday afternoon. They did, interestingly, use the phrase “sucker punch” in that official announcement.

Haley received a match penalty during the game. Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer was highly upset about the hit that inspired Haley’s actions.

“When you run someone from behind in a game like that, you probably deserve to get a punch in the mouth,” DeBoer told reporters.

In other bad news for the Sharks, CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz reports that Logan Couture‘s situation isn’t looking promising after he was hurt on Sunday.