Blackhawks News

Winter Classic Preview: Chicago Blackhawks to Take it Outside Against Washington Capitals

By Brian Kinkade
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Dec 31, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Chicago Blackhawks players pose for a team photo during practice the day before the 2015 Winter Classic hockey game against the Washington Capitals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 31, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Chicago Blackhawks players pose for a team photo during practice the day before the 2015 Winter Classic hockey game against the Washington Capitals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

Another year, another outdoor game for the Chicago Blackhawks.  Such is life when you are a perennial contender with a roster full of superstars.  The Washington Capitals seem like they could be that and that they should’ve been that for a few seasons now, but bad management has left them a less successful marquis team in the NHL.

This tale of two teams will meetup at Nationals Park, in Washington D.C for the 2015 NHL Winter Classic.  While the Hawks would like to remind the National audience that they are still the marquis team in the NHL, the Capitals would like to announce to the world that they are the team that they are supposed to be.

This is the 2nd and final meeting of the season, between the Hawks and Capitals.  In their only previous meeting this season, on November 7th, the Capitals ended a 5-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the Hawks, at the United Center.  Puck drop is set for noon Central Time, but delays due to sun glare on the ice are to be expected.  You can watch the game on NBC and you can listen to it on WGN 720 AM.

Here’s a statistical breakdown of the Hawks and Capitals.

[table id=103 /]

Offensively, the Hawks are elite and will be facing a slightly above average Capitals defense.  Defensively, the Hawks are the best in the league and will be up against a very potent Capitals offensive attack.

On the Power Play, the Hawks have improved to a league average position, and will be facing the Caps’ nearly-bottom-of-the-league Penalty Kill.  The Hawks own the best Penalty Kill in the NHL, and while it hasn’t been as shut-down as it has been, they will be facing the elite Power Play of the Capitals.

In the faceoff circle, the Hawks are nearly elite and will be taking draws against the above-average draw-taking ability of Washington.  In terms of pure puck possession, the Hawks are the best in the league and will be fighting for the puck with a very good and very much improved Capitals team.

The Capitals are currently 4th in the Metropolitan Division with a record of 18-11-7 which is good for 43 points on the season.  When one thinks of the Capitals, one thinks of Alex Ovechkin, the goal-scoring superstar and underrated defensive forward.  Ovechkin will undoubtedly be a factor in today’s game. Nicklas Backstrom currently leads the Caps’ in points, with 38 in 26 games played.  Andre Burakovsky and Evgeny Kuznetzof have made their respective long-awaited debuts in which they have taken lots of pressure off of Ovechkin and Backstrom.

In net for the Capitals will be Braden Holtby.  Holtby has emerged as an up-and-coming goaltender.  Holtby has been solid with a ,920 Save Percentage, this season.

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The Hawks are currently leading the Central Division with a 25-10-2 record, which is good for 52 points on the season.  With 8 points in his last 5 games, Patrick Kane is arguably having his best season of his career.  Brent Seabrook is also having his, arguabley, best season and will easily pass his career high in goals scored in a season. The Hawks had their annual great circus trip which propels them to a great December,  the question is what will today’s Winter Classic lead the Blackhawks to in the month of January?

It’s the Winter Classic!! ARE YOU READY!!!

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