NHL bracing for weather delay at Winter Classic at Busch Stadium

— -- ST. LOUIS -- The NHL is bracing for inclement weather that could possibly delay the start of Monday's Winter Classic by a few hours, or even a day, if necessary.

The current forecast calls for rain and thunderstorms during the day at Busch Stadium that could affect the 1 p.m. ET puck drop between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues. Normally, the game is played on New Year's Day, and if that were the case this year, the weather would have been perfect for an outdoor game. But this year, the NHL is celebrating its 100th anniversary with the Centennial Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday at BMO Field in Toronto. That game was also delayed a half hour because of sun glare on the ice.?

The Winter Classic has never been postponed to the following day.

Players understand the challenges of playing outside, and they're prepared for a delay.

"You prepare like you would a normal game," said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. "You don't really know how it can turn out, but at the end of the day it's the same for both teams and it comes down to who's handling the conditions the best. We played in a game at Soldier Field a couple of years ago and it was snowing like crazy and it was tough to even see the puck at times. It was slowing down on you and it slowed the pace of the game down a little bit. If you don't make excuses and you just go play through it and know that it's a challenge both teams have to deal with, maybe you can take advantage of the rough conditions in some ways."

Waiting around and not knowing when the game will start is the biggest challenge for the players because their routines are thrown off.

"For sure," Toews said. "But there's always ways to deal with that and ways around it. Going into it we know that could be potentially the case, so it's something we've got to take into consideration and be ready for, but it'll be nice if we can just go out there and play the game and have things be as perfect as they were today. But we'll be ready for whatever."

Players, including the alumni, have been impressed with the ice surface here and there haven't been any issues, but a significant amount of rain could change that.

"It's not an ordinary situation being outside your building, but obviously we have to adjust to weather," Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford said. "Hopefully it passes over and we don't have to wait and the fans don't have to wait. That would be the best scenario, but being outside you never really know and we're hoping for the best case."

When asked what he'll do to pass the time if there's a significant delay, Crawford said: "I don't know. Batting cages, maybe. Really, I don't know. Maybe just play some soccer, I haven't played in like 10 years but hopefully we find out before it's delayed and we're at the hotel so we can relax and not be here for five hours."