Winter Classic comes to DC

The Winter Classic is coming to Nationals Park Jan. 1, with the Washington Capitals taking on the Chicago Blackhawks. The Winter Classic is different from all other games due to the fact that it is played outside, on either a baseball or a football field. This will be the first-ever Winter Classic game in Washington, D.C. Both the Blackhawks and the Capitals have played in a Winter Classic game before. The Capitals won their first ever Winter Classic game on Jan. 1, 2011, beating the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 at Heinz Field. The Blackhawks lost their first Winter Classic game at home Jan. 1, 2009 against the Detroit Red Wings 6-4 at Wrigley Field. The Capitals have already faced the Blackhawks once this year on Nov. 7 and beat them 3-to-2 in Chicago.

The Capitals are off to a subpar start with a record of 13-10-4 and are third in the Metropolitan Division/ ninth in the Eastern Conference. The Capitals’ strengths come from captain Alex Ovechkin and alternate captain Nicklas Backstrom. Ovechkin leads the team in goals scored with 14 this season. Backstrom leads the team in assists with 22 and in team points (the combined goals and assist a player has) with 27 points.

The Blackhawks are off to a pretty good start with a record of 19-8-1 and are first in the Central Division/ fourth in the Western Conference. The Blackhawks are an excellent team, leading the NHL in penalty kills with a percentage of 91.1. Teams that face Chicago have averaged only two goals this season. Chicago also has one of the best goalkeepers in the league in Corey Crawford. Crawford is third in the NHL in goals against with 1.87 and is fourth in save percentages with .929 save percent.

This will be the seventh annual Winter Classic. This game should have taken place last year, but due to the NHL lockout of 2013, all games were rescheduled to the next season. This type of event only happens once every season, and this year, Washington has been honored to hold the Winter Classic at Nationals Park. However, playing games on fields that are not meant to hold hockey rinks comes with many issues. Seating is another major concern for fans because hosting the game in a baseball stadium, the seats are not as close to the field as compared to football fields where the seats are closer. Another factor is the weather, which can affect the players and the fans. Usually, hockey is held inside an arena so players and fans do not have to worry about the weather. In outside games, the weather can affect how the game plays. For example, if a game is played in the snow, there will be more resistance on the ice that may affect how fast the puck can go and how fast the players can skate up and down the rink.

The game will be aired on NBC at 1 p.m. on New Year’s Day.