Despite an epidemic of the mumps running rampant throughout the National Hockey League, hockey is still being played. New Year’s day is one of the biggest events in the NHL regular season, the annual Winter Classic. The event over the years feature some of the best teams with the league’s biggest stars performing in an outdoor game. This year’s 2015 Winter Classic will be held in Washington D.C. as the Washington Capitals will host Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks at 1 p.m. ET at Nationals Park.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. This is the Second Time Both Teams Are Playing in The Winter Classic
Chicago and Washington have both appeared once in previous Winter Classics. Chicago hosted the Detroit Red Wings in 2009 at Wrigley Field and lost 6-4. The Capitals played in the 2011 Winter classic, visiting the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field and won the match 3-1. This year will be the first time the Capitals host the game.
2. This is the Second Time the Teams Meet This Season
The Capitals defeated the Blackhawks earlier this season in Chicago 3-2 on Nov. 7. Capitals LW Andre Burakovsky earned the first star of that game with a goal, an assist, and two points. Defenseman Matt Niskanen also had two assists and two points for Washington as they won the first game against Chicago.
3. The Blackhawks are Dominant When They Score in the Third Period
Chicago is one of the best teams in the third period this season. When they score in the third, the Blackhawks are 22-3-2. An efficient performance in the final period is the reason why the Blackhawks have been one of the hottest teams in the NHL in December.
4. Alex Ovechkin has Played Well This Year
Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has played well in his past six games, posting four points — three goals and one assist — and averaging a plus-5. He’s also gained attention for highlight goals and big hits.
The Capitals Struggle Against Western Conference Teams
The Capitals have played mediocre against the Western Conference so far this season. They have a 4-5-2 record against Western teams in 11 games. The Blackhawks play well outside of their conference, posting a 10-4-1 record in 15 games.