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NHL to pay tribute to U.S. Armed Forces, Nation's Capital during festivities at 2015 NHL Winter Classic

Billy Idol, Gavin DeGraw, Lee Greenwood to perform at New Year's Day outdoor game

NHL.com

NEW YORK – The 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, the New Year's Day outdoor game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Washington Capitals at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. (1:00 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, TVA), will pay tribute to the United States Armed Forces during pre-game and in-game festivities, which will feature an anthem ceremony with the Armed Forces Color Guard, the U.S. Army Chorus and U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, singers Master Sergeants Bob McDonald and Caleb Green, and the National Capital Region Eagles; a flyover by the D.C. Air National Guard, 113th Wing; and performances by punk pioneer and rock and roll icon Billy Idol, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw, and country music artist Lee Greenwood.

The décor and field design at Nationals Park for the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will visually celebrate the city of Washington, D.C. The League will honor all five branches of the military throughout the day.

The full lineup of performances and special celebrations for the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic is being produced by IMG Productions, a global leader in sports, fashion and media.

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Five Questions: Emrick on his love of Winter Classic

Tuesday, 12.30.2014 / 3:00 AM / Five Questions With…

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NHL.com's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

The latest edition features NBC broadcaster Mike Emrick.

WASHINGTON -- NBC broadcaster Mike "Doc" Emrick lists his top-two events to call each year as the NHL Winter Classic and the Stanley Cup Final, in no particular order. He was on his way to the first one when he spoke to NHL.com on Monday night.

Emrick likes to get into the host city for major events such as the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic (Thursday, 1 p.m. ET, NBC) early in order to walk around the venue and talk to some of the people who work there about their city's sports culture. He never knows what kind of nuggets of information he'll be able to gather and potentially use during the broadcast.

For instance, Emrick said he went inside the famed Fenway Park scoreboard to see all the signatures on the wall the day before the 2010 NHL Winter Classic. He wound up meeting the guys who were going to operate the scoreboard for the game between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers.

"I said, 'If the Bruins score a goal, are you going to do like the Red Sox when they get a run and put up a yellow "1" until the period is over?'" Emrick said. "They said, 'No, we thought about it, but we only have one of them, and what happens if the Flyers score too?' So instead of doing that they just put up a total, but they didn't put up a yellow number and change it to a white number when the period ended."

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Fourteen numbers that defined hockey in 2014

Tuesday, 12.30.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

There are 525,949 minutes in a year, and it's safe to assume you spent a good deal of them watching hockey.

Yet, the minutes weren't the only thing we were counting. With the end of the 2013-14 season, the 2014 Sochi Olympics, an exciting 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the start of a new season, there was plenty of hockey, and plenty of numbers, to take away from the year 2014.

From Jan. 1 to this year's holiday break, here are 14 numbers that helped define the year in hockey.

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Raanta: Ready to be part of Winter Classic

Antti Raanta - Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Antti Raanta is preparing for his first Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. He's expected to back up starter Corey Crawford on Thursday against the Washington Capitals at Nationals Park, just as he did on March 1 in Chicago's Coors Light 2014 NHL Stadium Series game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Raanta agreed to offer up his opinions in blog form leading up to the main event.

CHICAGO -- Last year was my first outdoor game in the NHL, so that was a pretty unique feeling. How the winter was last year, it was snowing, so it made it even more fun. When you're a little kid, you always play outside and you always dream to be some NHL player or some hero, and you try to do those things, what you see them doing on TV.

Now it's going to be even more fun to be part of the Winter Classic.

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Canada beats Finland to stay perfect at WJC

Tuesday, 12.30.2014 / 12:16 AM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- Canada coach Benoit Groulx has done a fair amount of line-juggling thus far at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, but there is one line he has not had to touch since the start of selection camp in Toronto early this month.

That line has given him no reason to intervene, and doesn't look as though it is about to.

Linemates Sam Reinhart, Anthony Duclair and Max Domi had two points apiece and Zach Fucale made 27 saves to lead Canada to a 4-1 win against Finland on Monday in preliminary-round play.

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Demko, United States shut out Slovakia at WJC

Tuesday, 12.30.2014 / 12:15 AM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Sean Farrell - NHL.com Correspondent

MONTREAL -- The United States made it clear it wanted a showdown of undefeated Group A teams when it plays Canada at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Goalie Thatcher Demko made 17 saves for his first shutout, and forwards Sonny Milano, Dylan Larkin and John Hayden scored to lead the United States to a 3-0 win against Slovakia at Bell Centre on Monday.

The United States (2-1-0-0) has won its first three WJC games in six of the past eight years, including last year in Malmo, Sweden.

On Wednesday, the United States plays Canada (3-0-0-0), which defeated defending champion Finland 4-1 later Monday.

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Beagle: Excited to play in second Winter Classic

Jay Beagle - Washington Capitals

Washington Capitals forward Jay Beagle is about to play in his second Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. Beagle suited up for the Capitals at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh in 2011, and he's expected to be in the lineup Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks at Nationals Park.

Beagle agreed to offer up his opinions in blog form leading up to the main event.

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- We're just a few days away from the Winter Classic, and I'm feeling fortunate to be playing in another one. I was lucky a few years back to be with the Capitals when we played against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field. It was such a great experience.

As a kid growing up in Calgary, you always skate outdoors. Every chance I had, I would be on the outdoor ice. A lot of times, I can remember being out there a lot with people in my family. It was kind of a family thing; even my grandpa would be out skating with me. Skating outdoors is really where most of us learn how to play.

Playing at the Winter Classic in Pittsburgh was obviously a great experience. At that time, I was up and down a lot between Washington and Hershey in the American Hockey League. I got called up a week before the Classic and I had two good games. They kept me for the Classic and it was obviously a pretty special experience. It's something you never forget. It's pretty cool to be part of an outdoor game like that, especially one that was such a rivalry against Pittsburgh. It was a lot of fun.

The Epix guys are here filming us, but having more cameras around doesn't really change anything, at least for me personally.

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Czech Republic wins in OT; Sweden triumphs

Monday, 12.29.2014 / 8:21 PM / 2015 World Junior Championship

NHL.com

David Pastrnak scored 1:01 into overtime to give the Czech Republic a 4-3 win against Denmark in a preliminary-round game at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Champion Championship at Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Monday.

Pastrnak (Boston Bruins) also had two assists.

The Czech Republic tied the game 3-3 with 3:02 remaining in the third period on a goal by forward Dominik Kubalik (Los Angeles Kings).

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Craig and crew prepared for outdoors, again

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

WASHINGTON -- No matter how many outdoor rinks Dan Craig builds in venues larger than any NHL arena, and he has built quite a lot of them in the past seven years, he still feels the same level of nervous excitement as the days tick off the calendar, drawing event-day closer.

"It's nerves for accomplishment is what it is," Craig, the NHL's senior director of facilities operations, told NHL.com on Monday. "It's a game, and that's one of the things I never lose sight of, and within Hockey Operations, within our world, we never lose sight of it. This is a regular-season game and I want the guys to be able to play this as any regular-season game."

Except, and nobody has to tell this to Craig, it's not any regular-season game: It's the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic outside at Nationals Park on New Year's Day (1 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

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Capitals' Barry Trotz still same coach in new city

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Not long after defenseman Matt Niskanen signed with the Washington Capitals this past summer, he paid a visit to Kettler Capitals Iceplex to get his bearings and have his first in-person player-coach conversation with Barry Trotz.

The differing backgrounds struck Niskanen almost immediately.

"I was in town looking for a place to live and I talked to him, and he was like, 'There is a lot, a lot of media here,'" Niskanen said, laughing. "He was like, 'I mean, A LOT!'"

Niskanen said he didn't laugh out loud because he didn't want to embarrass Trotz.

"But inside I was laughing," he said while laughing outwardly. "I'm talking to him thinking there were times in Pittsburgh when Sid [Crosby] was making a comeback and I couldn't even get to my stall, and I was on the other side of the room."

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Quote of the Day

That's a really tough thing to play through; when you finally are thrown out there, the game is fast, intense, every single play matters, you've got to find a way to play through that and make smart plays. So it's a huge testament to [Vermette] and some other individuals in our locker room that are putting their own ego, their own wants and needs aside, and are ready for those opportunities when they do come.

— Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews on teammate Antoine Vermette, who returned from being a healthy scratch in Game 3 to score the double-overtime winner in Game 4