NHL on NBC: 2015 Winter Classic from Nationals Park

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NBC will feature the 2015 Winter Classic from Nationals Park between the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks. The game is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. ET, but keep in mind that it’s possible the start will be delayed if the glare on the ice warrants it. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly anticipates the delay will be short if there is one at all.

In addition to NBC, you can also watch the game online.

In some ways the Winter Classic is about taking hockey back to its roots and for many of the players, it’s a call back to their days of skating on frozen ponds as kids. In other regards it’s a modern feat utilizing advanced ice-making technology to create a rink in Nationals Park, one of baseball’s newest stadiums.

It’s quickly become an annual tradition and the highlight of the NHL regular season schedule. A spectacle for the fans and a memorable experience for the players. So while this New Year’s Day game ultimately counts the same as any other, it can’t be viewed in that light.

“Really, the message is enjoy this experience,” said Capitals coach Barry Trotz, per CSN Washington. “Let’s face it, this is pretty unique and it’s something that you don’t always get to do. … [Thursday] will be different. It will be like a playoff game.”

If you were to try and evaluate like you would any other regular season game though, you’d still find that this promises to be a great contest. This year’s Winter Classic will feature two of the hottest teams in hockey in Chicago and Washington. The Blackhawks have gone 13-2-1 in their last 16 contests while Washington is 8-1-3 in its last 12.

This game will also include some of the game’s greatest stars from Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom to Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Those competing duos have been the cornerstones of their respective franchises for years. Going into Wednesday’s contests, they were also the first and sixth highest scoring teammates respectively since 2007-08, per the NHL on NBC research team.

Perhaps one of them will make history today by providing us with our first Winter Classic hat trick. After all, Toews and Washington’s Eric Fehr have had two-goal outdoor games before. Maybe projected goaltenders Braden Holtby and Corey Crawford will be the difference this afternoon instead.

Whatever the case is, as Trotz said, it will be a unique game and when it’s over, it will live on in the memories of those who were a part of it.