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. I haven't actually even seen any of the episodes yet. We've been on the road so much, and I haven't really had the time to watch them. For me, it doesn't really change anything. You just be yourself and you continue to come to the rink and have fun and do what you love to do.
It's pretty special to be able to play in another Winter Classic, and I think it helps that most of us here have already played in one. From the first one, we know the schedule can change. We were supposed to play at 1:00, and then it got moved to 3:00 and then 8:00 because of the weather. It was an experience where it's unlike any other game. The preparation is a lot different. It's good to have the experience of already being a part of one, and I'm sure a lot of us will feed off that.
Tonight was a tough game against the Islanders. We didn't play our best in the first two periods and we wanted to just make a push. Our goalie, Braden Holtby, stood on his head. We wanted to come back for him, because he definitely gave us a chance to win. The third period was the way we want to play. We'll build off that.
It will definitely feel nice to get home. It seems like we've been on the road since almost the start of the season. We've all been excited for the Classic, and it'll be great to see my family. Everyone is already there waiting for me. My mom and dad will be there, along with my wife's mom. It will be great to have everyone together for a couple of days, but I know I also have to continue to prepare for the game.
My son, Brandt, is only eight months old, but I can't wait to hold him and skate around the ice at the stadium. That's going to be very special for me.