Cam Tucker

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Winter Classic forecast: Mild temperatures, light rain and a possible thunderstorm

The latest weather forecasts for Monday’s Winter Classic between the Chicago Blackhawks and host St. Louis Blues at Busch Stadium doesn’t look promising.

Puck drop between the two Central Division rivals is right now scheduled for just after 1 p.m. ET.

Light rain is still in the forecast, per the Weather Network. Temperatures are expected to reach into the 50s. And, on Sunday, it was reported there is the possibility for much worse weather, too.

The latest from AccuWeather:

“A mild day is in store for the Winter Classic in St. Louis. Temperatures reaching well into the 50s will make it difficult for maintenance to keep the ice rink frozen,” Rathbun said. “Rain will also fall, which will lead to ponding of water on the rink and difficult playing conditions.”

The amount of rain is questionable as there are indications that the heaviest rain may slide just to the south and east of St. Louis.

“There is the likelihood of a couple of showers during the afternoon, even if the heaviest rain stays away,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. “A thunderstorm is possible as well.”

In the event of unplayable conditions Monday, the big event could be moved to Tuesday, when there is less rain and cooler temperatures in the forecast.

“We’ve dealt with it before, so we’ll deal with it again if we have to,” said NBC Sports’ president of programming, Jon Miller, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“If we do run into rain we will stay as long as we can. We’ll play it Monday night if necessary. And if we can’t get any play in on Monday, we’ll carry it over and we’ll play it on Tuesday. We’re hopeful that everything cooperates. We’ve all been looking at the weather, we’re all well aware of what the pitfalls are.”

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    Ducks send Theodore to the minors — again

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    Shea Theodore is back on his way to the American Hockey League.

    The Anaheim Ducks reportedly made the move Sunday, sending the 21-year-old defenseman and former first-round pick to San Diego, per Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register.

    So far this season, Theodore has been up and down between the minors and the big club, and certainly the fact both teams are located in the same state makes it more convenient.

    The Ducks have confirmed the move.

    Recalled to the Ducks in mid-November, Theodore has played in 21 games this season for Anaheim.

    He had one goal and six points in that time, but his ice time had dipped below 15 minutes per game in three of his last four starts, including 13:06 Friday against the Canucks.

    The Ducks begin a five-game home stand today, as they face the Philadelphia Flyers.

    Centennial Classic start time delayed due to sunlight

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    The start of the Centennial Classic today between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs has been pushed back by 30 minutes, the league announced this morning.

    The league stated it was due to sunlight glare on the ice surface at BMO Field in Toronto, which means the game is now expected to get underway at 3:30 p.m. ET.

    This isn’t the first time glare from sunlight has impacted the start of an outdoor game.

    The start of the Heritage Classic between the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets in October was also pushed back for the same reason, although that delay was nearly two hours long.

    With a win, and a Philly regulation loss later in the evening, the Maple Leafs can move to within three points of the final Wild Card spot in the East.

    Related: Kris Draper and Gary Roberts got a little chippy at alumni game (Video)

    Markstrom makes a case for more playing time in Vancouver

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    Even before the season began, Canucks general manager Jim Benning declared Ryan Miller — his first significant free agent signing when he took over in Vancouver — as the No. 1 goalie.

    Jacob Markstrom was put back into the back-up role, and would need to earn the starter status through his play rather than having it bestowed on him because of his age and development since joining the Canucks in the Roberto Luongo trade.

    Even before the season began, it was known the Canucks would need both Miller and Markstrom to be exceptional if they were to have any chance of playoff hockey. Winning is the mandate, at least publicly, in Vancouver and great goaltending was a necessity in order for this to happen.

    On occasion, yes, the Canucks have received strong goaltending. Other times, not so much.

    They received the former on Saturday against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers.

    Markstrom had arguably his best game of the season, turning aside 42 of 44 shots, including a number of difficult opportunities, as the Canucks ended a tumultuous 2016 with a 3-2 shootout win.

    Bo Horvat had another big game for the Canucks, but the play of Markstrom was a huge reason they earned the win.

    Markstrom has pieced together some strong starts in December, and his overall save percentage (.913) is four points better than Miller, albeit in four fewer starts and one fewer game played.

    The discussion of who the Canucks No. 1 goalie is right now is one the organization may want to circle back to at some point here. Has Markstrom done enough, particularly in December, to warrant more work in the new year?

    There’s also the longer-term future to consider.

    Markstrom, who signed a contract extension last summer, turns 27 years old this month, while Miller is 36 and will celebrate his 37th birthday in July. The latter is also in the final year of his contract and a pending unrestricted free agent with a $6 million cap hit, and there has been discussion about his future, including any possibility of a return next season to Vancouver.

    Despite a three-game winning streak, the Canucks are not in a playoff position, sitting three points out of the Wild Card with three teams in front of them for that final spot.

    “Our goaltending’s been good all year,” said coach Willie Desjardins. “And that’s one thing we feel good about. We feel either guy can go and we’ll have a good chance to win.”

    Stars’ Benn got ‘a little dinged up’ in loss to Panthers

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    Difficult way for the Dallas Stars to end 2016.

    Not only did they lose to the Florida Panthers by a score of 3-1 following a dreadful first period — the seemingly ageless Jaromir Jagr had a two-point night — but Stars captain Jamie Benn was hurt during the second period after a fall into the boards, and now there is concern for about his status, despite the fact he remained in the game.

    Benn could be seen in obvious pain as he gets up from the boards and then goes to the front of the net, assisting on the Patrick Eaves goal. The celebration from Benn, however, was subdued.

    “He got a little dinged up. We’ll have to see where he’s at the next couple of days,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “He wanted to finish the game. I don’t know if that was the smartest decision or not. Hopefully we didn’t create a bigger problem.”

    The Stars’ loss combined with the Kings’ win on Saturday bumps Dallas out of the final Wild Card spot in the West for right now.

    It’s been a miserable season so far for injuries in Dallas and having Benn out for any amount of time would be a significant loss for the Stars, who only just got Patrick Sharp back in the lineup from a concussion.

    The Stars don’t play again until Wednesday, when they host the Montreal Canadiens.