Jan 1, 2014; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; (EDITORS NOTE: image generated by stitching multiple photographs into a panorama) A general view of Michigan Stadium during the 2014 Winter Classic hockey game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

2015 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic: Capitals' opponent may be Blackhawks

The NHL announced earlier this year the Capitals would be hosting the 2015 Bridgestone Winter Classic in Washington, D.C., on January 1. Who is the unnamed opponent playing the Capitals and exactly how many outdoor games will be played in this upcoming season? Rumor has it the Chicago Blackhawks will be making the trip to Washington. The President’s hometown team and his ‘current home’ team have each won on home ice in their games during the 2013-14 regular season making this an East vs. West matchup. The Capitals will be desperate to make the playoffs, after missing this past season, coupled with the Blackhawks defending their winning playoff status will certainly make this Winter Classic another success.

The NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic is a hockey game played outdoors once a year during the NHL regular season games. The first Winter Classic was held in 2008 when the Buffalo Sabres hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins at Ralph Wilson Stadium in New York. The nationally televised event attracted sponsors and advertisers, as well as throwback jerseys and souvenirs.  The Chicago Blackhawks played host to the Detroit Redwings in the second Winter Classic, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, IL, and had the highest television ratings of any hockey game in over 30 years.

Outdoor games such as the NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic and the Coors Light NHL Stadium series have also gained popularity with the fans. Ticket sales are alarming and every team in the NHL has requested to participate. Playing hockey outdoors creates a few glitches in the game, and rules have sometimes been modified. If wind and sun create an unfair advantage, the third and overtime periods are stopped midway through and teams switch directions. Also, in shootouts both goaltenders have, in the past, alternated defending the same goal rather than defending opposite goals.

The Winter Classic is on the NHL schedule through January 1, 2021 as part of the league’s television contract.  As for the Heritage Classic and the Stadium Series, rumor has it that there will be less outdoor games played in 2014-15 season. Advertisers and sponsors feel the more outdoor games the better. How do the fans feel? Do you want more or less?

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Tags: 2015 NHL Winter Classic Chicago Blackhawks Washington Capitals

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